Israel Begins Administering 4th Corona Vaccine Shot

Long lines at testing stations as officials warn testing kits about to run out; some experts continue to say herd immunity is now viable option

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: Coronavirus, Vaccine
Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

Israel late last week began administering a fourth dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to individuals in high-risk groups and some hospital staff.

There is still widespread debate over whether or not a fourth shot is necessary for the general public at this time.

 

Long lines at testing stations

Complicating matters is the highly-contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19, which experts say could infect up to a third of all Israelis by the end of the month.

With the new variant now spreading rapidly, Israelis are being sent to get PCR and antigen tests at an unprecedented rate, resulting in hours-long waits at testing stations across the country.

Even more concerning is that Health Ministry officials now say Israel could soon run out of COVID-19 testing kits if the current trend continues.

Even fully vaccinated Israelis are required to obtain a negative test result after coming into contact with an infected individual. Those who are unvaccinated or whose “Green Passport” has expired must obtain two negative test results to avoid quarantine.

Israelis waited in hours-long lines on Saturday and Sunday to get COVID-19 tests. But that might soon not be an option as testing kits run out. Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

Talk of herd immunity

Top medical advisors to the prime minister predict that very soon Israel will see between 20,000-30,000 new infections every day, and that restrictions used to curb previous waves of infection won’t work against Omicron.

At some point, everyone who can catch it is going to catch it, say experts like Prof. Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute.

In his report to the cabinet, Segal avoided using the term “herd immunity,” but other officials like Health Ministry director-general Prof. Nachman Ash have done so.

“We will see bigger numbers. Where will it stop? It’s hard to know. The price of herd immunity is very many infections, and that may end up happening. The numbers need to be high to reach herd immunity, it’s something that is possible,” Ash told Radio 103FM on Sunday morning, adding that “we don’t want to reach it by means of infections, we want it to happen as a result of many people vaccinating.”

What makes herd immunity a viable option with this new variant is that the rapid rise in confirmed infections is not resulting in a similar rise in hospitalizations. Far fewer people are becoming seriously ill with Omicron.

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