Over Four Million Israelis Have Received Third Booster Shot

Israelis receive their dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a healthcare maintenance center. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The government on Tuesday evening announced that over four million Israelis had received all three available doses of the coronavirus vaccine. As of Wednesday morning, that number stood at 4,001,031.

Leading medical and research organizations around the world recommend vaccination and note “the third vaccine dose is necessary to ensure complete immunological defense and many countries around the world are following in Israel’s path and providing it to their residents,” according to the government statement.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry on Tuesday evening published data saying that of the 153 people in serious condition, just 15, or 10%, had received the third dose of the vaccine.

At a press conference Tuesday, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Director of Public Health Services at the Health Ministry Dr. Sharon Elroi Preiss, and coronavirus chief Professor Salman Zarka discussed the waning coronavirus wave.

Horowitz said, “The Delta wave is on the decline, and the data show this very clearly. The decline we are seeing in morbidity data thanks to the booster [shot of the vaccine] is a testament to the end of the fourth wave.

“This doesn’t indicate the end of the coronavirus, and this isn’t a graduation party. In this government, we managed the coronavirus responsibly and with discretion, and we will also manage the exit from this wave intelligently. Unlike the previous government, we did not lock down the country, we did not drive the masses toward unemployment, we did not paralyze the market, and we opened the education system even when doing so wasn’t simple. We protected civil rights and individual liberties. We professionally managed [the pandemic] discreetly and without unnecessary panic. There are disagreements and arguments, but they always remain pertinent.”

He further noted the Health Ministry was “treating the waning of the wave as a kind of respite. We are assuming we might get to another wave and another wave, and we are preparing so that we are ready from all aspects. Like we said at the outset of the fourth wave, the coronavirus will likely accompany us for a very long time. It’s not a cause for alarm. There will be another variant, and we will get through it with minimum harm to public health. When morbidity is on the decline, you maintain basic means of protection and that is why the green pass and the masks will continue to accompany us, and the testing infrastructure… will continue to operate. We will not dismantle. At the outset of the fourth wave, we needed to establish everything anew because it was dismantled and this made contending [with the wave] difficult.”

As for the state of the pandemic around the world, Preiss said while no countries were currently blacklisted when it came to travel for Israelis, some could very well turn red, resulting in a ban on Israeli travel to those locales.

As for the third booster shot, Preiss said, “We still don’t know enough about the efficacy of the vaccine in the long term. The antibody level after the booster jumps to a higher level than after the second [dose]. We think this will hold for at least half a year, and we continue to follow to see when there is a decline.”

With Israel seemingly poised to begin vaccinating children aged five to 12 in the coming weeks, Horowitz said, “Every parent will make their decision for their children. In light of the fake news and slander, we must make clear: We are not forcing this on anyone, we are only explaining how good and important it is. The best answer is to go to the hospitals and see the seriously ill patients who did not get vaccinated.”

Zarka said, “The morbidity is still here. It’s not zero, and it won’t be zero. The majority of the morbidity in the State of Israel is in the education system. We are on the right path. Don’t throw out your masks, and don’t celebrate. We will continue to make sure we are protecting ourselves and people who are at risk.”

Asked about the ministry’s decision not to go through with plans to broadcast the vote on vaccines for children, Horowitz said, “The public was presented with data according to which the experts make the decisions. The issue is that some of the experts are not interested in being exposed. We haven’t made any decisions yet. To date, children under the age of 12 are exempt from paying for tests. We’ll see what that will be like in the future.”