Israel passes 1 million vaccinations, first in world to exceed 10% of population

Israel leads the world in vaccinating its population, but infection rate continues to rise.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Friday Israel will have vaccinated one million of its 9.3 million citizens against the coronavirus, becoming the first country on the globe to inoculate 10 percent of its population.

“Just yesterday we broke another record and vaccinated 153,430 people at 325 vaccination stations across the country,” Edelstein tweeted. “Today we will pass one million vaccinated.”

The Health Ministry reported that as of Friday morning 950,000 Israelis had already received their first shot, with a second vaccination to be administered three weeks after the first.

As of Thursday, Israel leads the world in per capita vaccinations with 9.18 per 100 people with Bahrain a distant second at 3.37 per 100, the UK at 1.39 per 100 and the U.S. lagging behind at 0.84 coronavirus vaccinations per 100 people, the website Our World in Data reported.

Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, told CNN that America’s slow administration of the vaccine was because its health system is set up differently.

In Israel, Bahrain, and the UK, “they already have a vaccine program that’s government run. They’re already providing vaccines to their citizens. They’re not building an entire infrastructure to do this — they already have it,” Hannan said, noting that the U.S. has no public health infrastructure.

“The structure we have in the U.S. doesn’t lend itself to vaccinating 300 million people in four months,” Hannan said. “This just isn’t the way we do business.”

Three weeks ago Israel received its first planeload of doses of the vaccine produced by the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer. The Health Ministry launched the national vaccination drive on December 20 targeting medical and healthcare workers, at-risk groups, and people over the age of 60.

According to the updated Ministry of Health, 41 percent of Israeli citizens aged 60 and over have been vaccinated so far.

Despite the positive vaccination numbers, Edelstein this week admitted that the government imposed two-week lockdown that began on Sunday was not working and infection rates are climbing.

Health Ministry officials are calling for a full enforced lockdown that will see the school system closed and tight restrictions on which businesses are allowed to open, Kan News reported.

Ministry statistics released Friday morning showed another 5,804 Israelis tested positive for coronavirus in the past day with 45,373 active cases in the country. Of the 1,102 Israelis hospitalized with the virus 678 are listed in serious or critical condition, with 178 of them connected to ventilators – the highest numbers in three months.

The cabinet is scheduled to meet on Sunday to discuss the situation and whether or not to impose stricter regulations in a bid to cut the infection rate. Edelstein had blamed fellow politicians for what he called “populist decisions” that left the school system many businesses open, moves that health officials said would require additional weeks of restrictions before Israel would reach a target of 1000 infections daily or lower.