A senior health official said late Saturday that a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine could be made available as soon as next month in the wake of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
"We have preliminary data that is still inconclusive as to how long the booster shot will be effective and an uncertainty regarding the new Omicron variant," the official told Ynet.
"In my estimation, we will need a fourth dose and a decision will be made soon."
The official added that it yet to be determined whether the booster shot will be effective for five months or longer. "Our decision will likely be made based also on the severity of the illness from Omicron, which is also unclear. If it is less severe than the Delta variant, we may only offer a fourth dose to adults only," he said.
These comments come only one month the Director General of the Health Ministry Nachman Ash said he hoped a fourth dose would not be needed before a year has passed since the booster shot.
"If we see a considerable reduction in protection after six months, it will certainly be a greater burden," Ash said. "In any event the booster is not likely to be effective for years and we will have to be vaccinated again," he said.
The health official said the Health Ministry is preparing an updated list of red countries with many expected to be added.
"We want to check daily, where the Omicron variant is spreading quickly and add then to the list," he said. "We may classify most countries in the world as red, within a few days."
Just 50 mostly African countries are currently classified as red as of Sunday.
In a meeting on Saturday with leaders of the parties in the coalition, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Green Pass restrictions would be extended to include shopping malls.
"We are in better shape than other countries because we took quick and decisive steps, but we must not let down our guard," Bennett said.