More than a million Israelis could be stripped of their vaccine passports because they’ve not received a booster jab, meaning they will be barred from indoor venues (unless they have proof of having recently recovered from Covid). Thousands have been pushed to get their third dose after the Government updated the definition of ‘full immunity’. The Financial Times has the story.
“I believe the fourth wave is coming to an end,” the Health Ministry’s Director General Nachman Ash said in a radio speech, attributing the success to the booster campaign. “We are on our way, but I say this with caution.”
Simultaneously, the Health Ministry released data saying common side effects like fatigue or pain in the arm were all measurably lower after the third jab than after the first or the second.
Israel, which was the first nation to use the Pfizer vaccine, used boosters to avert an August lockdown as the vaccine’s efficacy waned and infections soared, especially among the elderly, who started filling up Israeli hospitals with severe illness.
Faced with the possibility that its hospitals could be overrun, Israel offered to give third shots, first to the immune-compromised, then to the elderly, and eventually, to the entire adult population before either Pfizer or other international health bodies like the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) had fully studied the subject.
Prime minister Naftali Bennett outlined the virtues of booster shots, first to U.S. President Joe Biden in late August, then at the U.N. General Assembly two weeks ago. Faced with the choice of another lockdown or doubling down on vaccines, “we chose the latter – we pioneer the booster shot,” Bennett told world leaders. “Two months later, I can report that it works.”
So far, Israel is the outlier in offering boosters to the entirety of its population over 12, not just the clinically vulnerable. After fierce debate, and strong suggestions from the White House that the U.S. would soon follow suit, the FDA limited Pfizer booster shots to people over 65, those at severe risk and to those in jobs where they are likely to be exposed to a lot of virus in their daily interactions.
In all cases, their second shots had to be at least six months ago, as in France, which was the first European country to start administering booster jabs to its over 65 years old last month.
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