Israel becomes first country to give 3rd vaccination to at-risk adults

On Health Ministry instructions, hospitals began vaccinating people with impaired immune systems.

By World Israel News

Israel became the first country in the world to begin giving third vaccinations to at-risk individuals on Monday.

For the immunocompromised, the Health Ministry recommended administering a third dose eight weeks after a second jab, effective immediately. Hospitals began notifying eligible patients and vaccinating them.

Tens of thousands of Israelis, such as cancer patients, organ transplant recipients and individuals taking medications that suppress the immune system are eligible under the ministry’s guidelines. The first to receive third vaccinations were people who had received heart transplants at Tel Aviv’s Sheba Medical Center.

“There is accumulating evidence that patients with immunosuppression do not develop a satisfactory antibody response after two doses of the coronavirus vaccine, and some of them may develop antibodies after a third dose,” wrote Dr. Emilia Anis, head of the ministry’s epidemiological unit.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet recommended a third inoculation.

Meanwhile, a panel advising the government recommended vaccinating children under the age of 12. This would require government authorization first. Pfizer’s clinical trials indicate the vaccine is safe for this age group, but FDA approval isn’t expected until early 2022.

The Prime Minister’s Office announced on Sunday a deal with Pfizer to deliver a new shipment of vaccines in August, allowing health officials to continue their vaccination campaigns. The agreement moves up the delivery date which was originally scheduled for later in the year.

Also on Monday, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited Ben Gurion International Airport, long viewed as a weak link in the fight against Covid-19.

All arriving passengers are required to undergo a PCR test before leaving the airport. A large tent was set up outside the airport, doubling the number of testing stations and relieving overcrowding inside.

Nearly 5.2 million Israelis have received two doses of the vaccine while 5.7 million have only had one. As of Sunday, the Health Ministry reported 4,097 active cases of Covid-19, of which 47 are listed as serious.

Overall, 6,438 Israelis have died of the virus.

Coronavirus czar Nachman Ash said on Sunday he was optimistic that the number of cases wouldn’t reach the numbers of previous waves, thanks to Israel’s high vaccination rates. But he warned that the likelihood of imposing restrictions remains. “I don’t know if I would plan a large wedding for September,” Ash said.