Prime Minister Naftali Bennett got his COVID booster shot this morning – leading the way for Israelis 40 years old and up just – hours after the Ministry of Health approved the booster for the new age bracket and others such as pregnant women and healthcare workers regardless of age.
"Israel is the pioneer of the third dose of the vaccines against the COVID virus. We're seeing profound effectiveness, efficacy of the vaccines," Bennett said.
The Jewish state was the first to offer a booster for any age group and is still the only country doing so at the moment. The United States announced it would distribute boosters late next month.
"We from Israel are going to share all the data, all the information, all the insights in this pioneering. I'm happy to hear that many other countries are following suit, because at the end of the day, this is a global war on COVID and we've got to win."
In addition to those aged 40 and up, Israel's panel of doctors recommended that pregnant women, teaching staff, health care workers, patients and caregivers in health and welfare institutions, people with disabilities and their caregivers, caregivers of the elderly, prisoners and wardens and risk groups such as diabetes and obesity also get the shot.
The recommendation was widely expected. Yesterday in a news conference, Bennett said the third dose was crucial in avoiding a lockdown and beating "the Delta strain."
Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, the ministry’s head of public health services, said she expects the booster shot to be made available to all eligible age brackets within two weeks after high-risk patients have had an opportunity to get the shot.
“I predict this will happen in the coming weeks,” she said. “First people at risk need to be prioritized and then open up to additional groups. This is what we did when we started the vaccine campaign.”
Israel also reported 10 cases of a new strain in Israel, the AY3.
Israel is going ahead of – and against – the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) which said there is not enough evidence to support a booster.
The WHO's director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, also said that the fact that rich countries such as Israel and the U.S. have decided to distribute booster shots was "unconscionable" while poor nations "remain unprotected."
The WHO also had doubts about the booster from a scientific standpoint.
“We believe clearly that the data today does not indicate that boosters are needed,” the organization's chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said this week.
Further research was needed, she added.
The U.S. government said it planned to make booster shots available on Sept. 20.
Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS