Israel starts vaccinating teenagers ages 12-15 against coronavirus

Initial demand for coronavirus vaccinations is low as Israel follows the U.S. in giving shots to 12-15-year-olds.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel on Sunday officially began its coronavirus vaccination campaign for the 600,000 teenagers in the country ages 12-15, but officials reported that demand for shots was low.

Although several thousand parents had made appointments for their children to get vaccinated, Israel’s health maintenance organizations reported low turnout as the infection rate in Israel has dropped to near zero.

Vaccination is not mandatory in Israel. The shots are being given after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month approved the vaccination of 12-to-15-year-olds.

“The decision gives parents full autonomy to decide, and everything is done with great transparency,” Dr. Itamar Netzer of the Clalit Health Fund told Ynet.

“The corona pandemic has not ended but at the moment in terms of the State of Israel we are in a very good situation, so we have time,” Netzer said. “The morbidity is low and we are in a situation where people do not have to run and get vaccinated.”

Netzer said that travel abroad was a significant factor in bringing many families to the clinic.

While the national campaign to inoculate younger teens began Sunday, health clinics across the country actually started giving vaccinations last week.

Uri Alterman, 13, was the first youngster to get a jab at a Meuhedet Health Fund clinic in the city of Lod.

“I want to travel abroad with my family and feel safe even in places where not everyone is vaccinated, so it was important for me,” Alterman said. His father, Erez, added that after hearing the Ministry of Health’s explanations, he understood that the risk of avoiding vaccination was high, so despite some apprehension he brought his son to the clinic.

Israel has been reaping the benefits of its successful vaccination campaign in which most adults in the country received two doses of the vaccine produced by the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer. Except for foreign travel, most of the economy has reopened, with coronavirus-related health restrictions being either greatly reduced or canceled.

According to the Ministry of Health, in the past day a mere four new cases of infection were discovered out of 7,575 people tested and only 230 Israelis are known to be actively infected with the virus, down from more than 80,000 earlier this year.

Only 72 people remain hospitalized with the disease and all hospitals in the country have closed down their specialized coronavirus wards.

The pandemic has so far claimed 6,418 lives in Israel.