Report: Israelis Abroad Fly to Israel to Get Vaccinated

A man receives his second COVID-19 vaccine dose from a Magen David Adom worker. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A report published by Globes revealed a recent trend with Israelis working or living abroad returning on flights to Israel to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The flights are met by Magen David Adom (MDA) representatives, and after receiving the jab and waiting for 30 minutes, the passengers reboard their flights and return to their homes. They come back three weeks later for the second dose of their vaccination.

Only diplomats, representatives of Israeli companies working abroad and their families qualify for the vaccinations, although there are loopholes that allow others to be vaccinated. An estimated 1,400 diplomats and their families have been vaccinated. Diplomats who made the grueling 20-hour trip from South America were given special permission to spend the night in isolation in Israel, before the long return trip.

Health Ministry HMO and complementary health services supervisory department director Lior Barak says that Israel has only allocated vaccinations to citizens whose center of life is in Israel. “The vaccinations are not meant for Israeli citizens living in other countries  who do not have Israeli health fund insurance. Not enough vaccine has been purchased for all the Israeli citizens whose center of life is abroad, and there are close to a million people like that.”

But when speaking anonymously to a representative of the Clalit Health Services on the rights of Israelis here as tourists regarding the vaccination, we were told on arriving in Israel to buy a health insurance policy with Harel or Ayalon, and that this would include the vaccination.

Another loophole enabling Israelis living abroad to obtain vaccinations in contravention to Ministry of Health regulations is through Magen David Adom (MDA). The MDA network is not connected to the health fund network. So a person could potentially just present their ID card and get a vaccine, something many have already done at the many pop-up MDA vaccination stations all over Israel. Some people have even traveled to Israel on private planes in order to be vaccinated at MDA stations.

PassportCard travel insurance DavidShield CEO Alon Ketzef said, “In recent months there have been hundreds of inquiries from DavidShield customers around the world requesting to come to Israel to obtain vaccinations.” A decision about those entitled to this service will be taken by the Ministry of Health in the coming days.

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