Every parent should make the right choice for their child, a senior Health Ministry official said on Thursday as Israel began deliberations on authorizing the use of COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5–11.
"The question that is always asked in these discussions is what is better and where should we put an emphasis. Does the disease pose a greater risk or the vaccine?" the Health Ministry's Public Health Director Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis opened her remarks as an expert panel that advises the government convened in Jerusalem.
For the first time, the discussions were held publicly and carried live on Ynet as well as other media outlets as of 3 pm local time to increase the public's confidence in their decision-making process and allow Israelis to ask questions and voice their concerns, according to officials.
"What is important is that each parent makes a decision for their child based on the data that we provide," she continued. "Of course, as we said all along, we are not trying to force or coerce anyone here but provide the data necessary so every parent makes the right choice for their child. "
At the start of the meeting, officials presented a current picture of COVID-19 morbidity among young children, including hospitalizations, severe illness and the death of a 16-year-old who suffered organ failure last month after recovering from the virus.
Alroy-Preis noted that during Israel's latest wave of coronavirus infections, the share of children, who are not eligible to get the vaccine, among the total number of newly detected virus cases grew significantly compared to previous morbidity waves, at times reaching even 60% of the country's daily caseload.
The panel compared data from studies carried out by Pfizer, the FAD and CDC and compared them to data collected by the Health Ministry as other data collected around the world.
Health officials devoted a substantial portion of the meeting to discuss possible - though rare - side effects of the vaccines, including myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle). Pfizer reported no cases of the heart condition during its clinical trials on 5-to 11-year-olds.
During the discussion, vaccines opponents massed in the Facebook live feed's comment section and blisteringly denounced the participants in the meeting, with one commenter calling them "criminals" and another exclaiming "the Lord will save us from you."