Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz agreed on Thursday to give priority to teaching staff when it comes to delivery of coronavirus vaccine.
The decision was approved following a request from Gantz. It came two days after Yaffa Ben-David, the head of the Israeli Teachers Union, threatened an all-encompassing strike if the teaching staff is not added to the list of those prioritized for vaccinations, which include over 60s and those with underlying illnesses.
The defense minister said the vaccination of the teaching staff will begin "immediately", but a senior health official told Ynet the first stage of the inoculation campaign has been paused and he doesn't know what the latest agreement actually entails.
The Prime Minister's Office said in response that Netanyahu, Gantz and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein will appeal to the Health Ministry's advisory committee for coronavirus vaccines to examine the possibility of vaccinating the staff with any leftover shots.
The Health Ministry last week said there is not enough supply to vaccinate the teaching staff nationwide, prompting Tel Aviv Municipality and Ichilov Hospital to set up a massive inoculation center at Rabin Square where teachers could get vaccinated freely.
The move infuriated Edelstein, who ordered to stop the vaccine supply to the hospital. "The phenomenon in Tel Aviv is an unfortunate one," he said.
Former coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu, who heads the Tel Aviv hospital, later blasted the Health Ministry. "I struggle to understand why the ministry supports vaccinating police officers but punishes us for vaccinating teachers, when they are in the same priority group," he said.
Education Minister Yoav Galant said Israel must use the two weeks of full lockdown, which includes the shuttering of the education system and is set to go in effect on midnight Friday, to vaccinate the teaching staff around the country.