Coronavirus: Israel's vaccine campaign opens to all as pace slows
A healthcare worker prepares a vaccine at a facility operated by the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Rabin Square, Dec. 31, 2020.
(photo credit: MIRIAM ASTER/FLASH90)
Netanyahu said Israel would aim to vaccinate 90% of citizens over the age of 50 against coronavirus within the next two weeks.
All Israelis older than 16 are going to be eligible for a vaccine starting Thursday, the Health Ministry announced on Wednesday, as the number of daily shots administered in the country appeared to be dwindling.
The effectiveness of the nation’s coronavirus vaccination campaign has amazed the world. About five million inoculations have been administered in the past month and-a-half, with some 3,236,259 individuals vaccinated as of Wednesday morning, 1,855,071 of whom with both shots.
In the past few weeks, some 200,000 inoculations have been given every day.
However, only around 100,000 shots were administered on Tuesday, 115,000 on Monday and 130,000 on Sunday.
Three out of four health funds explained to The Jerusalem Post that they are witnessing a slower response rate among the younger population, while the fourth stressed that the demand is still high, but it has not received enough doses from the Health Ministry.
“As the vaccination campaign has been expanded to youth, also the rate of people coming to get vaccinated has started to decrease, for many reasons: the young think that they are not going to get sick, women worry about their fertility and so on,” Moshe Mosko, a spokesperson for the Leumit health fund, said.
“We have reached a point where we are inoculating half of the people we were inoculating before. If until last week we were administering up to 15,000 shots per day, there have been days this week that we did not reach 7,000.”
Leumit has about 500,000 members over the age of 16; about 200,000 have already received the first dose, with 125,000 of them having also gotten the second.
“We call people, we talk to them, we send texts,” Mosko added, expressing appreciation for the decision to make the vaccine available to all the adult population. “We have to preserve the momentum of the campaign that we have been losing in the past few days.”
At Leumit, about 96% of those who received the first dose came in for the second.
“However, on Tuesday,” Mosko pointed out, “about 12% of those who set an appointment for the first injection did not show up. We were very disappointed.”
A slower response rate among the younger members has been registered also at Clalit, Israel’s largest health fund, with about 4.7 million members, some 1.7 million of whom have been vaccinated at least once.
At Meuhedet, the number of vaccinations per day dropped from about 30,000 to around 10,000. A spokeswoman said that they hope this will change with the expansion of the campaign. She also stressed that people who make appointments for a shot do show up, in almost all cases, both for the first and the second injection.
The health fund counts about 1.2 million members, 54% of whom have either already recovered from COVID or were vaccinated.
A different perspective was offered by a spokesperson from Maccabi.
“We are limited by the supply from the Health Ministry; the demand is still high,” the spokesperson noted, expressing hope that as the campaign is extended to all ages, more doses will be provided to the health fund.
While Maccabi has the capacity to vaccinate around 60,000 people a day – and their record number of one-day inoculations was 53,000 – in the past two days they have only vaccinated around 30,000 per day.
Some 1.66 million out of the 2.5 million Maccabi members are eligible for a vaccine. About 900,000 have already received the first shot, and about 500,000 the second one.
On Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would aim to vaccinate 90% of citizens over the age of 50 against coronavirus within the next two weeks.
Currently, 77% of people over 50 have been inoculated, leaving more than 400,000 people in that age group still at risk of contracting the virus. While the vaccination campaign is now going to include all of the adult population, the Health Ministry instructed the health funds to keep focusing on people over 50.
Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman contributed to this report.