A Health Ministry body known as the pandemic treatment staff voted for the additional dose on Tuesday, recommending the move by a wide margin, according to the Times of Israel. In addition to the elderly, other high-risk groups and medical workers were also recommended for the extra booster, which still requires official authorization from the ministry.
Nonetheless, PM Bennett wasted little time before urging the groups in question to receive their fourth shots, saying Tuesday’s vote was “great news that will help us overcome the Omicron wave that is spreading around the world,”referring to the latest coronavirus ‘variant of concern’ identified by the World Health Organization.
I call on everyone who meets the criteria set by the committee members: Get vaccinated. Take responsibility for the health and livelihood of us all. Vaccines save lives,” Bennett added.
If formally approved, citizens eligible for the extra shot will be required to wait at least four months after their third dose, the Times reported.
Though Israel was among the first countries in the world to immunize a majority of its citizens, its vaccination rates have since slowed, now lagging behind a long list of other nations. And despite its rapid vaccine rollout, the country has seen a spike in coronavirus infections in recent months, including a high number of ‘breakthrough’ cases in fully vaccinated patients. Since then, the government has unveiled a series of booster doses in order to strengthen protection against the virus, in line with Tuesday’s vote for a fourth shot. To date, some 46% of Israel’s population has received at least one additional dose, putting its booster campaign among the top three in the world.
Some experts have gone even further in their recommendations, with Arnon Afek – deputy director of the Sheba Medical Center, Israel’s largest hospital – going as far as to suggest that a fifth, sixth or even seventh dose could ultimately be needed to end the pandemic.