Israeli immunologists: 4th vaccine could do more harm than good

Israeli medical experts advise the government to slow down on second booster shot.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

As Israel becomes the first country in the world to roll out a fourth coronavirus jab for people with preexisting health conditions, medical workers and seniors, some immunologists say that the government is not acting according to science.

Israel’s decision to mandate a third booster shot for anyone over the age of 12 also sparked backlash from immunologists, physicians, and health officials, but the government appears to have adopted a vaccine-first strategy.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has repeatedly maintained that the Jewish State’s pandemic management plan hinges on regular booster shots for millions of Israelis, despite statements from the World Health Organization that such a policy is not sustainable.

“The Israeli government is not taking into consideration any opinions given by immunologists,” Doron Melamed, a professor of immunology at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, told Ynet.

“They are biased toward physicians and others who are not immunologists,” he added.

Melamed said that the government was being short-sighted, as epidemiologists around the world increasingly concur that “highly repeated vaccination may be harmful in the end.”

Because vaccines create a specific immune system response, he explained, too many doses can create a reaction in which people are less able to naturally fight off variants.

“There are vaccines that we get once in a lifetime, and there are vaccines that we need to get every five years,” he said.

Whether or not multiple COVID-19 vaccinations are necessary is “something that needs to be measured.”

Hadassah Medical Center epidemiologist Dr. Ronit Calderon-Margalit, who is also a lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told Ynet that the government appeared to have made the decision to move forward with a fourth shot “based on the success of the past shots.”

The problem, Calderon-Margalit said, is that the government did not conduct enough studies about the impact or efficacy of a second booster shot.

“It is the responsibility of the government to continue to observe those who received the fourth shot” before recommending that wider swathes of the population receive it, she added.