Airport injections: Israel mulls corona vaccines at Ben Gurion International

Israelis returning to the country may soon be able to receive their first vaccine at the airport.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

It may not be as delightful a greeting as leis in Hawaii but Israel is considering installing corona vaccination stations at Ben Gurion International Airport to welcome incoming travelers, Yediot Aharonot reports on Monday.

The Ministry of Health discussed the idea in a meeting on Sunday, the Hebrew paper reports. The goal would be to give returning citizens a certain degree of immediate defense against the virus.

“One of the central vaccination issues to solve is the matter of Israelis who aren’t members of Health Maintenance Organizations,” said a Health Ministry source.

Yediot reports that if the idea is put into practice, it would be available at first only to returning citizens who haven’t canceled their membership in their HMOs. Until now, those returning to Israel who weren’t HMO members would go to Magen David Adom (Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross) to receive vaccines.

Israel’s four HMOs, which cover nearly all the population, were key to Israel’s success in distributing the vaccine so quickly to the population.

A source in one of Israel’s hospitals told Yediot, “If the project is carried out immediately maybe it would give a certain level of protection to Israelis already by Passover night.” Passover begins on the evening of March 24. The holiday, which involves extended family gatherings, is a source of concern for Israel’s Health Ministry, which worries it could result in an increase in infections.

Israel recently celebrated its 5 millionth vaccination. However, Israel’s corona czar, Prof. Nachman Ash, said Monday that Israel will only reach herd immunity “when it arrives at 7 million vaccinated citizens.” He said he expects that number to be reached this summer, after which Israel will return to normalcy.

Israel has already returned to a degree of normalcy. On March 7, it reopened bars and restaurants, though with restrictions. Restaurants are capped at 100 people and bars must maintain an empty stool between patrons.

“We are coming to life,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, while enjoying a pastry at a Jerusalem cafe, in a Facebook video he posted on March 7.