Israel on Monday began vaccinating children aged 5-11 against coronavirus, becoming the only country other than the United States to do so.
While the inoculation campaign is set to officially start on Tuesday, several hundred children arrived at clinics across the country with their parents to receive their vaccine dose — which is a third the size he ones given to those over the age of 12.
Israel's health funds said that thousands of Israelis have already made appointments for coronavirus vaccine shots for their young children.
Hundreds of vaccination sites will open all over the country and parents will be asked to report any adverse reactions their children may experience to health authorities.
Arriving at a Maccabi Healthcare Services clinic in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat HaSharon, 11-year-old Gala Konstanta from Herzliya was the first in line to receive the vaccine.
"It was very fun," she said, adding that the jab did not hurt and urged other kids to go get theirs.
Shimon, Gala's father, said there was no question his daughter would receive the vaccine.
"The debate about whether to get the shot or not is going on at many schools, including ours," he said.
"I was abroad recently and I felt very proud to be from Israel thanks to the vaccines. This is the reason we wanted Gala to get vaccinated, to make sure she is protected and safe just like all the adults."
Shimon said that he had some concerns, but reports of the vaccine's efficacy reassured his decision.
"Kids in the U.S. already got the vaccine and we trust the Israeli health system, which proved itself all throughout the pandemic," he said.
A fourth wave of infections that hit Israel in June began subsiding in September. But over the past two weeks the R number, or reproduction rate of the virus, that had remained below one for two months began climbing and has now crossed that threshold, indicating the pandemic may be resurging in Israel.
Daily cases have also crept up over the past few days, with half the confirmed infections reported among children aged 11 and younger.
The Health Ministry estimates that one in 3,500 children infected with coronavirus will later develop multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) which causes inflammation in some parts of the body, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, and gastrointestinal system. Most children who suffer from the condition require intensive care treatment and it has a 1-2% death rate.
Officials have also noted the risk of lingering symptoms, such as sleep disruption, muscle pain, loss of smell and taste, headaches and a cough, commonly known as "long Covid".
A survey by the health ministry of more than 13,000 children showed that around 11% of them had suffered lingering symptoms, with 1.8% to 4.6%, depending on their age, six months after recovery.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday urged parents to vaccinate their children, citing the rise in morbidity in Europe and concerns that a fifth wave of the pandemic might begin after the virus' R number topped 1, a sign of a possible resurgent outbreak.
Reuters contributed to this article.