Despite the success of Israel’s coronavirus vaccination campaign, the country will not achieve herd immunity as long as its children are exempt from receiving the inoculation, says Prof. Yehuda Adler, the chair of the European Cardiovascular and Myocardial Disease Association.
“Six million vaccinated does not constitute herd immunity,” said Adler, referring to the number of Israelis who received at least the first vaccine jab thus far.
“To achieve herd immunity, we need 90% of the population to be vaccinated. This means that as long as children are not vaccinated, there is no herd immunity,” he said.
Vaccine manufacturers have yet to give official approval to vaccinate children.
While Israel has limited coronavirus vaccination to only those over the age of 16, the Health Ministry has allowed several dozen children to be inoculated.
The children, who reportedly felt well after the jab and showed no side effects. were all in a risk group due to preexisting conditions or could have infected at-risk parents.
Adler also said that disseminating accurate information was the best way to counter false claims about the vaccine and its side effects - an issue particularly prominent among the Arab, Russian and ultra-Orthodox sectors.
“Since the onset of the pandemic we were very vocal about the subpar public relations campaign about the pathogen,” said Adler.
"Fighting fake news is like fighting ghosts. There is no need to fight it. If we talk about fake news now it will only serve to spread it further. We just need a better explanation campaign.”
Adler said that despite the lies being spread about the vaccine, the number of people getting inoculated in multiple cities across the country had been tremendous.
“I am a consultant in two municipalities - Rishon Lezion and Herzliya - and the vaccination rates there are enormous. While the public relations campaign was atrocious, all it took was talking to people face to face,” he said.
“I hold Zoom meetings every day with teachers, kindergarteners, students and parents. There is a lot of confusion due to the fake news being spread. And yet, talking and explaining has proven more effective than enforcement, which has thus far failed to yield results.”
According to Adler, the coronavirus vaccine has proven integral to the fight against the disease, not unlike the vaccines that helped eradicate illnesses such as smallpox and polio.
“Like these vaccines, the coronavirus vaccine is both safe and effective," he said. "That is why everybody should get it.”