Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Tuesday that Israel was preparing for a second COVID-19 vaccination drive in six months that is also slated to include children.
"Brace your shoulders and the children too because according to our estimates the vaccines will be approved for children by then," Netanyahu said.
The premier also launched an implicit jibe at Defense Minister Benny Gantz for holding up an agreement with Pfizer Inc to procure millions of vaccine doses in demand of appointing a permanent justice minister.
"I give my word to the directors of the [pharmaceutical] companies. They demanded a clear budgetary commitment because they could not reserve vaccines for us without it. I faced political hurdles in the way, and once the election was over, I came across the same hurdles."
The agreement with Pfizer to purchase millions of coronavirus vaccine doses through 2022 was eventually finalized on Monday. Hours later, Israel also struck a similar deal with U.S. pharma giant Moderna.
Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein confirmed that the deal with Pfizer will see some nine-million vaccine doses arrive in Israel in the coming year and will also include an option to purchase millions of additional shots if needed. It was also stated that the vaccines will be tailored to fend off new variants of COVID-19.
He also stated that Israel was preparing a tender for the establishment of a vaccine plant in the country, to which more countries may join in the future.
Edelstein said that thanks to the country's successful vaccination campaign, health officials were discussing increasing attendance at events and urged Israelis who have yet to get vaccinated to do so.
Netanyahu then reiterated his support for a direct election for the premiership as a way of ending Israel's two-year cycle of inconclusive elections and to prevent a potential fifth national vote since April 2019.
He also said that he did not need the Islamist Ra'am party to establish a government and lamented that petty personal interests were keeping him from forming a right-wing government.