Israel's national coronavirus vaccination campaign was expanding Sunday, with the opening of additional stations to receive the inoculation and priority extending to patients with chronic diseases.
An additional 150 vaccination stations were to be opened Sunday, as Israel heads into its third nationwide lockdown, with another 80 due to come into operation by Tuesday.
Israel's goal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday night, "is to reach 150,000 vaccines a day by next weekend."
Netanyahu said that he had asked the heads of the pharmaceutical companies to increase the supply rate of vaccine doses to Israel "in line with the rate of vaccination."
"This means that within 30 days of having reached this pace, we will have vaccinated 2.25 million citizens," Netanyahu said. Israel has a population of some nine million people and each person needs two doses of the vaccination, three weeks apart.
"We are embarking on a massive immunization campaign that is unparalleled in the world, and in the process I ask you for a short, tight closure.
"These two things together take us out of the coronavirus [pandemic] first in the world," the prime minister said in a video he posted online.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein on Saturday night instructed the ministry's director general, Prof. Hezi Levy, to examine whether teaching staff can be vaccinated as early as this week.
Although the approval is only given by a special committee, Edelstein contacted Levy following inquiries from Education Minister Yoav Galant and the secretary general of the Israel Teachers' Union Yaffa Ben-David.
Rambam Healthcare Campus in Haifa and Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv were also starting to vaccinate not only their medical staff but also those aged 60 and over, and more hospitals across the country are also expected to join them. The over-60s were already being vaccinated by the health maintenance organization to which they belong.
The Clalit HMO, Israel's largest health fund, will have 83 vaccination centers in operation this week, compared to just 31 centers last week. Three of them – in Herzliya, Tel Aviv and Haifa - will operate 24 hours a day.
Maccabi, the second-largest HMO, will operate 67 vaccine centers this week, compared with 21 locations at the end of the week. Meuhedet HMO will operate about 70 centers and Leumit will almost double its number of sites to 25.
An Israel Democracy Institute poll released Sunday found that 40.8% of the public gave the government mostly positive ratings for its handling of the crisis' medical aspects, while 32.2% gave it mostly negative ratings.
On the economic aspects, the government's ratings were 52.8% negative and 19.7% positive.
Sunday's lockdown - the country's third - will last at least three weeks and aims to tamp down contagions that are currently doubling in scale every two weeks, the Health Ministry said.
The vaccines mean "there is a very high chance that this is our final lockdown", Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of the ministry's public health services division, told Army Radio.
Reuters contributed to this report