Israel’s COVID Green Pass changes Sunday - here’s what you need to know

The COVID-19 Green Passes issued to Israelis over the past year become null and void on Sunday and all eligible Israelis are going to be asked to download new replacement passes.

A woman shows her green passport at the Khan theater in Jerusalem on February 23, 2021. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
A woman shows her green passport at the Khan theater in Jerusalem on February 23, 2021.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The COVID-19 Green Passes issued to Israelis over the past year become null and void on Sunday and all eligible Israelis are going to be asked to download new replacement passes. However, the rules for receiving a pass have changed.

At last count, more than 1.5 million Israelis were set to lose their passes because they no longer meet the criteria for being fully vaccinated or immune to coronavirus. Do you qualify?

Here is The Jerusalem Post guide to the Green Pass:

Who is considered eligible for a Green Pass?

Vaccinated individuals: People must have received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine within the last six months or have received a third shot/booster dose within the last six months.

Because the third dose is only considered effective beginning a week after inoculation, those relying on the booster shot will only be able to receive a pass seven days after vaccination.

Those who have been vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine must also wait a week to receive their passes. For people who get the Moderna vaccine, the waiting period is two weeks.

What if I recovered from COVID?

People who have recovered from COVID-19 can receive a pass for up to six months from the date of issuance of their recovery certificate. After six months, these individuals are required to get a vaccine shot to be eligible for a Green Pass.

The reason for this is that research conducted by the Gertner Institute and several Israeli hospitals found that, over time, protection wanes for people who had COVID. However, when a single dose is administered, their protection spikes to as high as it is for those who have received three doses.

Individuals who tested positive via a serological test and then received a booster are also eligible for a pass.

The Green Pass for those who have recovered and received a vaccine shot will be valid for six months from the day of vaccination.

Children under 12 cannot be vaccinated. So, what do they do?

Children who cannot yet get vaccinated will need to be tested for the coronavirus.

Youth who are screened with a PCR test and found negative as part of the Magen Education program will have a valid Green Pass for seven days from the date of the test. Otherwise, they will be asked to take a rapid antigen test at one of hundreds of locations across Israel. The results of these tests are valid for 24 hours.

Last week, Pfizer submitted its data to the US Food and Drug Administration on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine for children ages five to 11. The FDA is expected to rule on whether to grant emergency use authorization for the vaccine in the coming weeks.

Israeli health officials have said that once the FDA gives approval, Israel will likely open up vaccination to younger children, too, even as early as the end of the month.

Are there any exceptions?

Children under the age of three do not require a Green Pass.

Why did the criteria change?

The Health Ministry ruled to change the Green Pass criteria after research done in Israel and abroad proved that the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness wanes over time.

As the Delta variant entered Israel and the infection rate and hospitalizations began to surge, researchers at Sheba Medical Center released data showing that for some people, the Pfizer vaccine’s ability to stop infection declined from more than 90% for people vaccinated in December 2019 and January 2020 to as low as 40% in July 2021.

Two subsequent studies, one by Oxford University and another by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), showed similar results.

The British study, based on more than three million nose and throat swabs taken across Britain, found that 90 days after a second shot of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine, their efficacy in preventing infections had slipped to 75% and 61%, respectively.

The American study of around 3,700 people over the age of 18 hospitalized at 21 centers throughout the country found that protection against hospitalization from the Pfizer shots declined four months after vaccination, from 91% to 77%.

How long will this new Green Pass last?

Green Passes are valid for six months from the date of the second or third dose or from the date of issuance of a recovery certificate. Green Passes issued from a negative rapid antigen test are valid for 24 hours.

Where will a Green Pass be required?

Green Passes will be required at cultural and sports events; conferences and exhibitions; hotels; gyms, fitness studios, swimming pools and country clubs; houses of worship with more than 50 prayer goers; celebration and other event halls; restaurants, cafes, bars and dining halls; museums and libraries; tourist attractions such as amusement parks; and universities or other places of higher education.

Police will be stepping up enforcement beginning this week on all places that are required to check for passes before entry. A spokesperson for the Israel Police said it expects to issue thousands of tickets to business owners who do not comply with the Green Pass protocol.

Where can I get a Green Pass?

Green Passes are most easily available through the Traffic Light website – corona.health.gov.il/en/green-pass/ – and via the Traffic Light application, which is downloadable from Google Play or the Apple App Store.

Individuals can also download their passes via hundreds of self-service terminals throughout the country. A map of these stations is available through the Traffic Light site. People can also call *5400 or (02) 508-2000. A fax machine is required for the 02 number.

Health funds cannot issue Green Passes.

Anyone who had a previous Green Pass will need to reissue it on October 3.

What information will I need to get the pass?

People wanting to get their passes will need their personal identity card number. Non-citizens will need their passport or visa numbers. They will also need a mobile phone number and date of birth.

People who have tested to receive Green Pass entry will need to scan their rapid test code: Log in to the app > my coronavirus certificate > scanning > scan the code.

How will establishments know the difference between the old and new passes?

The new Green Pass includes more information about the individual who holds it and larger depictions of the official logos of the State of Israel and the Health Ministry. It also includes a special QR code that can only be scanned by businesses using the official Green Pass application.

Establishments will be asked to check people’s ID numbers against their IDs on their passes.

See the following image:

 The new Green Pass (left) compared to the old one (right) (credit: HEALTH MINISTRY) The new Green Pass (left) compared to the old one (right) (credit: HEALTH MINISTRY)

Do you have more questions?

The Health Ministry also provides a Frequently Asked Questions page on its website: corona.health.gov.il/en/directives/green-pass-faqs.