Health Ministry Expands Vaccinations to All Ages

YERUSHALAYIM -
A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a Meuhedet vaccination center in Yerushalayim,  Tuesday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Director General of the Health Ministry, Prof. Chezi Levy, has instructed the kupot cholim (HMOs) to begin providing vaccinations to all citizens ages 16 and above from Thursday.

The Health Ministry asked citizens  between ages 18 and 35 to book appointments by contacting their HMO providers.

Despite the decision, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and the ministry’s director general instructed HMOs to concentrate efforts on individuals aged 50 and above.

Meanwhile, as Israel continues to lead the world in vaccinating its population, the Health Ministry has found that very few Israelis are reporting feeling side effects after receiving the vaccine. Most of the side effects were light and temporary.

A Health Ministry monitoring committee found that only 6,575 out of 2,768,200 (0.24%) Israelis who received the first dose of the vaccine reported side effects and that 3,592 out of 1,377,827 (0.26%) Israelis who received the second dose reported side effects.

According to a Channel 12 report, Clalit Health Services, the largest of Israel’s four kupot cholim, was forced to discard nearly 1,000 doses in recent days after people failed to show up for their vaccination appointments.

The latest data recorded by the Health Ministry showed that 3,236,859 (35.1% of the population) people have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 1,855,071 were administered the second (20.1%).

Also Wednesday, an IDF Military Intelligence Directorate task force said the basic reproduction number, or R0 – the average number of people each virus carrier infects – has been steadily rising over the past few days and reached 0.99, a touch away from 1, the point beyond which the outbreak is worsening.

It said that was likely due to the more infectious U.K. variant, which accounts for the vast majority of new cases in Israel.

The task force pointed out that the high infection rates have failed to drop at all throughout the almost month-long lockdown.