Over-60s Can Get Vaccine Monday

YERUSHALAYIM -
The ward where people will be vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus, at the Shaare Tzedek Medical Center in Yerushalayim, Thursday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli health maintenance organizations (HMOs) have begun notifying people over 60 and others in at-risk groups that they will be able to get vaccinated against the coronavirus starting Monday, according to media reports.

Every patient will have two appointments scheduled, 21 days apart, and will be considered vaccinated only after receiving the second dose.

However, the Health Ministry on Wednesday published a vaccination priority list which appeared to put health workers on top. The first to receive the vaccines will be members of the medical staff at hospitals followed by HMOs and private health clinics, it said.

The head of Israel’s doctors’ union disagreed, urging the vaccination of the at-risk population before medical workers.

“If we’ll vaccinate the population at the highest risk, like retirement home tenants and the elderly, it won’t stop the pandemic, but it will surely prevent significant casualties in the immediate future,” Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians, Prof. Hagai Levine, told Ynet.

“We must focus on the most vulnerable group that could die from coronavirus. We don’t even know how many vaccines arrived in Israel and how many more will arrive next week, so we can’t make an informed decision about which groups to prioritize.”

Meanwhile, approval for the Pfizer vaccine in Israel is still pending.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said he will be the first in Israel to get inoculated, reportedly to be broadcast live from Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv. Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and President Reuven Rivlin are also on the list for first shots.