Israel to air kids' COVID vaccine debate live: here's how it will work

The Health Ministry hopes to build trust by making the kids' vaccine debate public.

 Health worker prepares a Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary Clalit health care center in Jerusalem, September 30, 2021.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Health worker prepares a Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary Clalit health care center in Jerusalem, September 30, 2021.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The Health Ministry will publicly broadcast the meeting of the Advisory Committee for the Corona Vaccines and Epidemic Control where members will discuss the issue of giving coronavirus vaccines to children ages five to 11.

The live event will take place on Thursday, November 4 at 3 p.m. 

The US Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children five to 11 on Friday, after a senior panel of advisors last week recommended that two doses of 10 micrograms be administered to children.

In order to build public trust in whatever decision the Health Ministry makes about vaccinating kids, the ministry decided to offer this live session, it said. 

The majority of Israeli health officials have already spoken out in favor of childhood vaccination, but exactly who will be eligible for the vaccine, when and how is still unknown.

 Health worker prepares a Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary Clalit health care center in Jerusalem, October 3, 2021.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Health worker prepares a Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary Clalit health care center in Jerusalem, October 3, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The Israeli committee will not be making a final decision at the meeting. The event is more for the public to discuss their concerns.

As such, the public is invited to submit requests to express a position on the issues of vaccination for children ages five to 11 to the committee by Tuesday, November 2 at 9 a.m. Applications should include the position that the individual would like to present and any documents that support the person’s position.

Since the number of applications is expected to be large, the speakers will be selected according to the following criteria: representation from professionals in the health and civil society arenas and from the general public; representation by topics, including vaccine safety, benefits and other related issues; and representation by position, including those for and against vaccinating children.

The Health Ministry has committed to selecting 20 selected speakers by November 3 at 9 p.m.

The session will be run similarly to the FDA advisory committee’s in that each speaker will have three minutes to present. Speakers can use PowerPoint presentations, so long as they are submitted by November 3 at 9 p.m. and approved by the ministry.

The order of the speakers will be determined by a lottery. They will only be able to address professional issues. Anyone who defames or uses verbal violence against anyone on the committee will be stopped immediately.

Those who do not want to present but do want to ask a question, can submit questions by November 2 at 4 p.m. The questions will be reviewed by the ministry and some of them will be asked by the moderator during the live session.

The link to submit an application to speak is https://survey.gov.il/he/publichearing. The link to ask a question is https://survey.gov.il/he/pandemicexperts.

The deliberation over whether children should be vaccinated comes as Israel is exiting its fourth wave. 

There are now fewer than 10,000 active cases of coronavirus in the country, and less than 1% of people being screened for the virus each day are testing positive.

The last time Israel had fewer than 10,000 active cases was more than three months ago.

There are no more "red cities," according to the Health Ministry's data dashboard, and only a handful of "orange cities." Red cities are those with high infection rates.

On Friday, the Health Ministry reported only 651 new cases. There were 227 serious patients, including 137 who were intubated.

Just two months ago, Israel was recording upwards of 5,000 new cases per day.

The death toll stood at 8,081.

Some 678 people died of the virus in September, compared to only 285 so far in October.