Over 60s to Get Pfizer Booster as Green Pass Returns

YERUSHALAYIM -
Medical workers, seen through a window of an observation room, wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as they work inside an underground ward treating patients with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Critical Care Coronavirus Unit at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo)

Israelis over the age of 60 who are at risk of developing severe coronavirus will now be eligible for receiving an extra jab of the coronavirus vaccine, the Health Ministry decided as the Green Pass program came into effect again.

The Health Ministry informed the health funds that they could begin administering the doses on Sunday.

The Health Ministry’s coronavirus vaccination committee voted by an absolute majority to administer the third shot of the Pfizer vaccine to elderly people at a meeting that ran from 9 p.m. to midnight, despite a third jab still not being approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

“I would like to thank all the members of the committee for their thorough and comprehensive work,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said. “Our strategy is clear: To safeguard life, and to safeguard daily routine of the residents in Israel.”

Already on Thursday morning, Prof. Nimrod Maimon, head of the Magen Avot V’Imahot program met with representatives of the country’s assisted living facilities and said that the shots would be immediately administered at their homes.

The move comes one day after Pfizer told its investors in a presentation that their research shows that a third dose of the vaccine increased antibodies in those who received it by five to 11 times.

The company said it hopes to apply for emergency use approval of the extra shot sometimes in August.

The Delta variant has been quickly spreading across Israel. While the majority of new cases are younger people, among them unvaccinated children, the country is starting to see more and more elderly who were vaccinated five and six months ago get infected. Preliminary research by the Health Ministry showed that the Pfizer vaccine was only 16% effective against the Delta variant in people vaccinated so long ago.

Moreover, it is estimated that for people 60 and older, the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing serious illness has dropped from 97% to 81%.

The battle over schools, however, continues.

Bennet said that the Health and Education Ministries are working together to develop a “safe outline” for the start of the school year and would announce it when it is ready.

The announcement came after reports that there was a big gap between the stances of the ministers.

“Our government was formed on the basis of diversity, and we know how to manage diverse positions,” he said. “We will continue to do so.”