Health Official: Herd Immunity Was Never Realistic

YERUSHALAYIM -

Any hope of achieving herd immunity against COVID-19 in Israel was never realistic, because children cannot be vaccinated, according to a senior health official on Sunday.

The head of public health services in the Health Ministry, Sharon Alroy-Preis, said during a government meeting that “since there are 2.5 million children who cannot be vaccinated, we likely will not reach herd immunity even if the entire rest of the population gets vaccinated,” according to media reports.

Regarding the decision to begin lifting the lockdown, Alroy-Preis called it “crazy” to reopen the country at a time when there are almost 1,000 serious patients, but added: “We don’t want to hold Israel hostage.”

“If there had not been a third lockdown… the situation would have been much worse, this is what worries me with the exit now,” Alroy-Preis adds.

She says: “If we do not want to reach tens of thousands of cases and thousands of those in serious condition, the lockdown exit strategy must be careful, responsible, and slow.”

Meanwhile, the pace of vaccinations has slowed.

“At the beginning of the [vaccination] campaign we got used to inoculating between 100,000 and 120,000 people per day, and in the last few days we are barely reaching half of those figures,” Kalanit Kaye, the manager of Clalit’s vaccination drive, told Ynet.

“We are prepared, our centers are big and accessible, the process should be pretty simple on the whole, vaccines are being given for free, so I don’t understand the people who don’t come to get the shot. It’s a big mistake,” she said.

“There was greater cooperation among the at-risk populations,” Kaye added. “Right now we’re reaching out to the younger public, and some people don’t understand the vaccine’s importance. Unfortunately, the fake news on social media and in the press is doing damage. People aren’t sufficiently afraid of the coronavirus because they aren’t familiar with what it causes.”