Israel Set to Begin Vaccinating 12- to 15-Year-Olds Next Week

YERUSHALAYIM -
A healthcare professional prepares a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Sheba Tel Hashomer Hospital in Ramat Gan. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)

Israel is set to begin vaccinating teenagers aged 12 to 15 against the coronavirus on June 6, the Health Ministry announced on Sunday.

Despite the announcement, Health Ministry Director-General Chezi Levi has yet to consolidate a decision as to the safety of the vaccine in children. The assessment is that there are around 600,000 children in this age group in Israel.

In a meeting, the Health Ministry representatives informed healthcare providers that in the first stage, vaccinations would be performed in schools, providing maximum access to youths from all sectors.

Magen David Adom emergency services, which assisted healthcare providers earlier on in the vaccination campaign, is expected to be tasked with vaccinating students. Later on, healthcare providers will be informed which of their members in this age group have yet to be inoculated and will take over the campaign.

Following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s footsteps, the European Medicines Agency approved the emergency use of Pfizer’s vaccine in teens aged 12 to 15 over the weekend.

The Health Ministry is waiting for its team of pandemic experts to decide on the vaccination of teens.

The Health Ministry has been collecting data on teens who experienced heart inflammation within one week of receiving Pfizer-BIONtech’s coronavirus vaccine. Around 70 cases have been reported in Israel thus far.

Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, often goes away without complications and can be caused by a variety of viruses.

The ministry is comparing the prevalence of complaints of heart inflammation following inoculation to recent years as well as comparing instances of heart inflammation among vaccinated and unvaccinated teens.

As most cases of heart inflammation were reported upon receiving a second dose of the vaccine, one of the options on the table would see teens receive one dose instead of the accepted two doses of the vaccine.

Levi said, “We are being attacked for holding off on a decision and being cautious. We’re holding talks and collecting material. As for reports of heart inflammation, we are being cautious in our examination of all the instances, seeing whether there is a connection between the events and the vaccines. We are going over all the medical files and checking everything.”