Head of national coronavirus task force says he expects FDA to give approval in the coming weeks.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
The head of Israel’s coronavirus task force said Sunday that Israeli children aged 12-15 will likely start getting coronavirus vaccinations soon after American health authorities give the green light, which is expected in the coming weeks.
Prof. Nachman Ash told Israel Army Radio that the procedure is already in place. Earlier this year, Israel approved vaccinations for children 16 and up, and most grades 11 and 12 students across the country are receiving the vaccine made by American pharmaceutical company Pfizer.
“There are two points we have to cross. First is the authorization of the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration], and the second is the [Health Ministry] committee approval here in Israel,” Ash said. “I am assuming that we will get these two approvals in the coming weeks and start vaccinating children.”
Ash noted that the infection rates have dropped dramatically throughout the country. He hopes that with the widening of the vaccinations, schools will be able to resume normal classes for older children.
The coronavirus pandemic has played havoc in Israel, like in other countries, with the school year. Israel approved vaccinations for teenagers age 16 and up beginning in February to lesson the impact on annual matriculation exams.
The move to expand vaccinations to 12-15-year-olds comes after Pfizer recently completed a clinical trial for that age group. Both Pfizer and competitor Moderna are running trials for even younger children, but those results are not expected until later this year.
As of Sunday, Health Ministry statistics showed that 5.3 million out of Israel’s 9.3 million citizens have had at least one shot of the Pfizer vaccine, with 4.8 million people fully vaccinated.
The high vaccination rate and effectiveness of the vaccine have resulted in a significant drop in infections and a reduction in the number of those seriously ill with the virus, allowing Israel to gradually reopen its economy.
Although the numbers were lower because of the weekend and Passover holiday that ended Saturday night, only 124 new infections were found since Friday. Only 5.946 Israelis are known to be sick with the coronavirus, down from over 80,000 earlier this year.
Of those sick, 524 are hospitalized with 349 of them listed in serious condition; 6,232 Israelis have died of coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.