While most western countries are focussing on their first booster dose campaigns, half a million Israelis have already received the fourth dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Some 500,000 people living in Israel, which was one of the fastest countries in the world to vaccinate a majority of its citizens, have already received a fourth coronavirus vaccine dose, the office of Prime Minister Naftali Benett announced on Thursday evening.
“Half a million Israelis over the age of 60 have already been vaccinated with the fourth vaccine,” Benett stated on Twitter.
Israel’s vaccination campaign initially began at the end of December 2020 – more than one month before the first dose was administered in Belgium – and it is now one of the only countries in the world offering an additional booster dose.
People aged 60 and over, immunocompromised people, medical staff and people at residential care home are the only ones eligible for such a fourth dose at the moment.
This could soon be extended to the entire population as the first booster dose. The option is considered but not likely according to the Director-General of the Health Ministry in a TV interview. Israel is facing a rise in the number of new infections, with over 40,000 cases registered in the last 24 hours, according to data from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Israel’s decision to move ahead with the administering of a fourth dose came following the positive advice from Israel’s Pandemic Expert Committee to administer a fourth COVID-19 vaccine for adults over the age of 60 and medical personnel.
However, WHO’s Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has already said a vaccination strategy based on repeated booster doses of the original vaccine composition is unlikely to be sustainable, stressing that a country cannot “booster” its way out from the pandemic. This opinion was mirrored by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).