Bennett Doubles Down: Green Passport for Israelis With Third COVID Jab Only

The Israeli PM's comments come in light of the FDA's decision to limit booster shoots for over 65s and at-risk groups ■ Israel recorded the highest number of serious COVID cases in September on Saturday

Haaretz
Jonathan Lis
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Naftali Bennett at a press conference, in July.
Naftali Bennett at a press conference, in July.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Haaretz
Jonathan Lis

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stuck to his guns on his decision to extend the green passport for only those who have received the third jab of the coronavirus vaccine from October 1.

The prime minister's decision on Saturday, which came following consultation with Health Ministry professionals, came after an FDA advisory panel recommended against administering the Pfizer booster shot against COVID-19 to Americans under 65. 

The panel rejected administering a third dose of the vaccine to the majority of Americans, aged 16 or over, in a sweeping 16-2 vote. The decision was seen as a blow to the Biden administration’s effort to shore up people’s protection against the virus amid the highly contagious delta variant. Only older demographics, as well as high-risk populations and healthcare workers, were recommended to get the booster.

The Health Ministry responded rapidly to the panel’s recommendation on Friday, stating that the FDA is actually following what Israel did when it first rolled out the booster, by recommending the booster to older demographics and even extending it to a larger group than what Israel began with. Israel recently passed the 3 million person mark for the third COVID vaccine booster. 

The Health Ministry also emphasized that the United States is in a very different stage of the pandemic than Israel. In contrast to Israel, many Americans have yet to receive even the second dose of the vaccine, and the United States is therefore several months behind Israel in experiencing the waning immunity of the vaccine.

News of the recommendation will likely renew debate over Israel’s decision to provide the so-called green passport – which is provided to those with proof of immunity – only to those who have received a booster shot, starting on October 1. It could also impact Israeli parents’ willingness for their children to receive a booster shot.

Israel also marked a monthly high of serious COVID cases following the Yom Kippur holiday this week, with 717 cases reported on Saturday.

The figure includes 195 patients on ventilators, representing a significant rise from Thursday and Friday, when there were 654 and 658 seriously ill patients respectively.

The total number of active cases in Israel stands at 84,527, with 4,863 new cases diagnosed on Friday. The rate of positive tests is 5.61 percent, down from 5.93 percent. 

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