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Israel first country to mass vaccinate the population

Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

Launching the vaccination campaign in Israel on Saturday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the first to receive the anti-coronavirus vaccine.

The Israeli Prime Minister was among the first leaders in the world to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. “I have asked to be vaccinated first, together with Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, in order to serve as a personal example and to encourage all of you to be vaccinated,” he said arriving at the Sheba Medical Center.

Addressing vaccine hesitancy, he added that, “We can exit this together and we will soon get started. I believe in this vaccine. Tens of thousands of people have received it successfully. The best scientists have approved it. We can get underway.”

“I feel great; go get vaccinated”, he said after the vaccination and called on the citizens to continue to be strict about the rules. “Distance, hands, masks and avoiding gatherings. If everyone is vaccinated quicker, we will thereby restore life to the normality that we knew quicker, especially the economy.”

Like the EU member states and other high-income countries, Israel has managed to secure enough vaccine doses to vaccinate more than the whole population and expects to receive about 4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine already by the end of December. Its deputy health minister stated last week that Israel will also be willing to provide vaccine doses to the Palestinian Authority.

The vaccination campaign in Israel begins with the vaccination of health care staff, inmates in prisons and elderly people above the age of 60 and will be expanded to the rest of the population in January. Compared to the EU, Israel is more ahead in its vaccination plans. In most EU member states, the vaccinations appear to start slowly with priority groups and the rest of the population will have to wait until March or later.

A Commission spokesperson told The Brussels Times on Friday that no figures are available about the distribution of vaccines to the EU member states but ensured that the doses will be allocated on a pro rata basis according to the Commission’s vaccine strategy.

In Israel, the vaccination campaign was started at the right political moment for Netanyahu, in the middle of a resurge of the coronavirus with worrying infection rates among the Arab and Jewish orthodox communities, and possible elections in Spring in case the government fails to agree on the state budget for next year. In the meantime, the demonstrations against his rule that have taken place for months in Jerusalem continue.

The Brussels Times