Vaccination of Israelis over the age of 60 has reduced the rate of that age group getting COVID-19 by almost half and the number of serious cases in that cohort by more than a quarter in the last two weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday.
Israel began its vaccination program on Dec. 19 and has so far reached 35% of the 9 million population, the government says. It has set March as a target date for reaching 50% of the population in hope of outpacing high-contagion virus variants, but worries about ebbing turnout.
Netanyahu touted the success of the program in televised remarks to his cabinet, which convened to discuss a proposed extension of a more than five-week-old national lockdown.
"Over the last 16 days, among those over age 60, there has been a reduction of 26% in hospitalization for serious (complications) and an around 45% reduction in confirmed cases. This is a direct outcome of the vaccines," he said.
Netanyahu has said that 95% of COVID-19 deaths in Israel - the total tally was 4,975 as of Thursday - have been among the over-60s.
According to the Health Ministry, 84% of the over 60s have now received the vaccine, made by Pfizer Inc. It did not immediately provide a more detailed breakdown of how many of these people had received both vaccine doses and when.
As of Thursday, vaccines were being made available to all Israelis over the age of 16.
"Go get vaccinated. The vaccines work," Netanyahu said.
First published: 19:07 , 02.04.21