Israel’s Health Ministry announces 2 week vaccination freeze

The Health Ministry admitted on Thursday morning that vaccine supplies aren’t enough to keep up with demand.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

With some 800,000 Israeli citizens having received the first jab of the two-shot coronavirus vaccine in 11 days, Israel is leading the world in per capita vaccinations.

But the Health Ministry admitted on Thursday morning that vaccine supplies aren’t enough to keep up with demand, and HMOs across the Jewish state will be taking a two-week pause and stop inoculating new people.

“Those who have [already] been vaccinated are guaranteed a second dose,” Health Ministry Director General Prof. Hezi Levy told Maariv.

The pause, he explained, means that there will be enough doses left for those who received the first jab to get the second “booster” shot.

When asked if vaccination will become available to the general public at the end of January, Levy said, “I’m not sure about [availability for] everyone, but there is a high probability.”

He reiterated the Health Ministry’s policy that people in high-risk groups should be given first priority for vaccination, but added that teachers – who recently threatened to go on strike if not prioritized – may also be given preference.

“Teachers are a very respected group that should have priority, but we thought it was important to vaccinate the high-risk population with pre-existing health conditions,” Levy told Maariv.

“We are currently considering allowing teachers at a certain age to get vaccinated.”

But despite the success of Israel’s mass vaccination campaign, the Health Ministry reported some 5,583 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the highest daily increase since October.

Coronavirus czar Nachman Ash said the current lockdown, in which schools are fully operating and private businesses are allowed to continue operating in-office, may need to become more restrictive. He warned that a potential delay in new vaccines could prove to be a setback.

“We’re making a great effort to bring forward the next shipments so no gap is created. If the shipments don’t arrive earlier, this is a possibility and it is worrying,” Ash said to Ynet.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told local media that Israel aims to vaccinate 2.25 million citizens, or roughly a quarter of the population, by the end of January.