The Health Ministry on Tuesday expanded Israel's coronavirus vaccine roll out to include children aged 5 to 11 who are at immediate risk of developing severe COVID-19 illness.
A document circulated by the ministry lists several exceptional cases in which hospitals and healthcare providers can offer the vaccine to children at such a young age, including children suffering from morbid obesity, neurodevelopmental disorders, severe immunosuppression, acute chronic lung diseases, heart failure and pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Thus, Israel becomes the first country in the world to clear a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in children under 12 years of age.
Both Pfizer and Moderna, whose vaccines are in use in Israel, are currently holding clinical trials to determine the safety and efficacy of the shot in children aged 5 to 11. U.S. federal regulators urged the companies to expand the size of the test group as a precautionary measure designed to detect rare adverse effects, as per the New York Times.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry on Tuesday morning reported that 2,123 Israelis have tested positive for COVID-19 out of 90,153 tests carried out over the past 24 hours, putting the national coronavirus infection rate at 2.32%, reaching its highest peak since March.
Out of 12,385 active coronavirus patients nationwide, 121 were hospitalized in serious condition, including 25 people on ventilators, the ministry said. The national COVID-19 death toll stood at 6,461 fatalities since the start of the pandemic.
The surge in cases has been largely attributed to the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, which saw the government reintroduce some health measures after the country had lifted almost all restrictions.