Thousands of Israeli seniors to get third COVID jab on Sunday

President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett are seen kicking off Israel's third booster shot vaccinations at Sheba Medical Center, on July 30, 2021.
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)

Herzog kicks off the booster campaign at Sheba Medical Center on Friday * Health Ministry to toss 80,000 doses of expired vaccines * Serious cases rise above 200

More than 40,000 Israelis over the age of 60 have already booked appointments and are expected to get a third shot of the coronavirus vaccine this week, the health funds said.
Some 25,000 of those shots are expected to be given at Maccabi Health Services alone. More than 10,000 were booked through Meuhedet, 7,000 through Clalit and dozens more through Leumit.
But while seniors are heading to the country’s vaccination complexes, Israel will be tossing some 80,000 Pfizer coronavirus vaccines that expired on July 31 at midnight – vaccines that were worth NIS 6 million.
At the same time, the number of serious cases has surpassed 200 for the first time since April 14.
“The State of Israel manages its stock of vaccines while paying attention to the product’s expiration date and the fact that this is a life-saving product that is sought after by many in the world,” the Health Ministry said in a statement sent to The Jerusalem Post.
The ministry has signed confidentiality agreements regarding the exact number of vaccines that it purchased from various companies, including Pfizer. However, it said it could disclose that part of the supply that expired on July 31 was used to vaccinate citizens who had responded to calls by the Health Ministry and the prime minister to get inoculated early. In addition, part of the batch was traded with South Korea in exchange for doses they will supply Israel in the future.
“For every citizen who has been vaccinated with the first dose, a second dose is reserved – and any citizen who wishes to get vaccinated can be vaccinated now,” the ministry said.
ISRAEL INAUGURATED its booster shot campaign on Friday, with around 3,000 older people who had received their second shot at least five months ago turning out. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has charged the health funds with vaccinating all 1.5 million individuals who qualify for the vaccine within 10 days.
The first shots were given at Maccabi Health Services in Ramat Hasharon, Clalit Health Services in Netanya and at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, where President Isaac Herzog received the shot.
“Here in one of the leading medical centers in the world – one of the 10 best medical centers in the world, Sheba hospital – we are beginning the booster vaccination, which is so vital to enable normal circumstances of life, as much as possible, in this very challenging pandemic that humanity is faced with,” the president said. “This step is very important for the solidarity of the Israeli people.”

Herzog looked forward to another few weeks – when schools are expected to open and the High Holy Days will start shortly thereafter – and stressed how vaccinating the elderly is key to keeping life running according to routine.
“We have to protect each other, take the necessary steps and make sure we can all function like normal and ordinary states and societies do,” the president concluded.
Herzog was vaccinated by Sheba nurse Lina Ahmad. His wife, Michal, was also inoculated, along with Sheba medical personnel who qualified for the dose.
Bennett spoke at the event, addressing the foreign press and leaders, as he termed the battle against COVID a “global fight.”
Yafit and Eli Shapira are the first to get vaccinated with the booster shot. The Maccabi vaccinating nurse is Moran Shapira their daughter in law. (Photo credit: MACCABI HEALTHCARE SERVICES)
“The only way we can beat the pandemic is together,” Bennett said. “Together means sharing information. Together means sharing methods, technology, insights and actionable steps. Israel is open to sharing all the information that we can gain from this bold move – and we are going to win, but together.
“From this day forward, we have a new mitzvah: ‘Vaccinate your father and mother to prolong their lives.’”
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, also got a third shot at Sheba Friday afternoon.
EARLIER IN the day, Yafit and Eli Shapira became the first regular Israeli citizens to receive the third shot. They were inoculated by their daughter-in-law, nurse Moran Shapira, at a health center in Hod Hasharon.
At Clalit, the first to get vaccinated were Raphael Yefet, 73, and his wife Yael, 72, from Kfar Netter. They were vaccinated at a Netanya health center.
The Health Ministry voted last week to give a third dose to people over 60 after reviewing data prepared by Sheba showing that antibodies were waning in older people who had been inoculated five and six months prior. Elderly people are more prone to developing serious cases of COVID-19.
Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash called the move “an important first step we are taking in the State of Israel, designed to protect the elderly population from contracting the coronavirus and from serious illness” in a statement he made Saturday night.
Ash also responded to reports that elderly citizens were requesting to undergo a serological test to evaluate their level of antibodies before turning out to get a third jab.
“I want to emphasize that there is no need for that,” Ash said. “Such a test may create confusion. There is no medical justification in making a decision about whether to get vaccinated based on the results of a serological test.”
So far, almost 5.8 million Israelis have received at least one dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. More than 90% of people over the age of 60 have already received two shots.
Last week, however, only 25,000 Israelis were vaccinated.
Israel has seen a surge of infection in recent weeks due to the Delta variant, which now accounts for more than 90% of cases in the country.
On Saturday night, the Health Ministry reported that 2,435 people had been diagnosed with coronavirus the day before. There were 201 in serious condition, including 31 who were intubated. This is the highest number of serious cases since April 14.

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