Israel will continue offering the COVID booster to all age groups eligible to be vaccinated, despite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation to give the third jab only to those aged 65 and over, and those with a weakened immune system.
The FDA recommended on Tuesday not to approve the administration of the third vaccine to those aged 16 to 64, but only to those aged 65 who are considered at risk from the pathogen, and said that there is currently insufficient data on the safety of the third dose, especially for teens.
According to the Health Ministry, the decision to continue offering the booster to the wider population stems from the surge in cases of COVID-19, due to the Delta variant and the differing infection rates between Israel and the U.S..
Despite the FDA’s decision and the government's fear it will deter the younger population from receiving the third jab, vaccination complexes across the country saw long lines over the weekend as Israelis waited to receive the booster.
"I want to protect myself, my family and my girlfriend,” said Amir Raz, who received the third vaccine despite the FDA’s recommendation. “To say I'm completely sure? Maybe about 80%, but that's enough.”
Abbas Izz a-Din, a resident of northern Israel, also decided to receive the third vaccine: “I heard [the FDA] recommended not giving the booster. I was a little scared, but it could keep me safe from the virus. I received the vaccine because I work with the public and had no choice. There is no other way"
Medical staffer Anna Daphna, the head of one of the vaccination complexes in the southern city of Be’er Sheva, said people waiting for their shots have thus far not asked her and her colleagues about the FDA’s recommendation.
"It did not affect the [number of people] much," Daphna said. "Before Saturday night we had loads of people from all ages waiting in line to receive the booster.”
On Saturday, Director General of the Health Ministry, Prof. Nachman Ash, presented a new outline for the Green Pass - which allows those who were fully vaccinated to enter certain events and venues. The pass will be stripped from those who received both doses of the vaccine over six months ago but failed to get the third jab before October 1.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced his support for Ash’s Green Pass outline, despite the objection of the ministers in the coronavirus cabinet, who argued that people under 40 should still be regarded as vaccinated.
Israel’s vaccination campaign for the third booster shot has thus far seen over 3 million Israelis vaccinated. More than 6 million have been given one dose of the vaccine, over 5.5 million receive two doses of the vaccine.
First published: 10:00, 09.19.21