Adolescents aged 12–15 are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine effective immediately, the Health Ministry announced on Sunday.
The ministry’s epidemic task force and vaccine monitoring committee, headed by Director-General Prof. Hezi Levi, reviewed multidisciplinary work concerning the shot's possible complications, including myocarditis — an inflammation of the heart muscle.
The panels determined that the risks posed from contracting the virus and the subsequent complications were greater than the risk of receiving the vaccine. The risk of myocarditis, which was observed in teenagers aged 16–19, was also low and led only to mild illness in most cases.
However, in light of the pandemic's ongoing decline across the country, health officials mainly recommended the vaccine to adolescents with a medical risk of developing severe coronavirus illness, adolescents living with family members at risk of developing severe coronavirus illness and families expected to travel abroad.
The new order is mainly directed at adolescents suffering from chronic diseases, respiratory diseases, diabetes, obesity and cancer. Healthy teenagers will also be able to get vaccinated if they choose to.
Israel has lifted almost all of its COVID-19 restrictions.
The almost miraculous improvement in Israel’s situation vis-à-vis coronavirus is attributed to its successful vaccination rollout, which saw some 85% of Israelis over the age of 16 receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
Over 5,455,00 Israeli citizens have received the first vaccine dose, accounting for 58% of the country's population, and more than 5,137,000 — about 55% — have received the second booster shot.
The Health Ministry on Sunday reported that 30 new cases of COVID-19 have been detected over the past day out of 18,672 tests conducted over that same time period, putting Israel's positivity rate at 0.2%.
There were 37 coronavirus patients hospitalized in serious condition, 25 of which were on ventilators.
Israeli hospitals have shut down most coronavirus wards nationwide as cases continued to steadily tick down.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Israel last March, 6,418 Israelis have died of the virus.