Israel Receives First Shipment of Coronavirus Vaccines, to Start Inoculating on on December 27

Health minister says that Israelis vaccinated for the coronavirus will be given a certificate allowing them full freedom of movement: 'This is the only way we can return to full economic activity'

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A nurse holds a vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at University Hospital in Coventry, England, December 8, 2020.
A nurse holds a vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at University Hospital in Coventry, EnglandCredit: POOL/ REUTERS

The first shipment of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccines arrived in Israel Wednesday morning. According to Health Ministry sources, it is expected to include 200,000 doses.

“I want the people of Israel to be vaccinated, and in order to do so I want to lead by example, I plan to be the first to be vaccinated in Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement at Ben-Gurion Airport.

“I believe in this vaccine. I expect that it will pass all the necessary approvals in the coming days.”

Netanyahu announced that Israel aims to vaccinate 60,000 people a day starting on December 27.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said that those who get vaccinated will receive a certificate granting them full freedom of movement. “This is the only way we can return to full economic activity,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Health Ministry director general told hospitals and health clinics that Israel’s first batch of vaccines is expected to arrive on December 20. Hospitals are set to start vaccinating people that same week, while HMO’s will begin vaccinations the following week.

Meanwhile, as an alternative to the nighttime curfew, a plan scrapped on Tuesday, the government is considering forbidding Israelis from visiting the homes of others during the eight-day Hanukkah holiday, which starts Thursday evening, from 5:30 P.M. Shops will also close at that time.

Ministers will vote on the proposal, which applies to Jewish areas only, on Thursday.

Edelstein said that the Health Ministry has decided “after long discussions” that those who test negative for the coronavirus twice can leave self-isolation after 10, rather than 14 days.

Following the spread of the coronavirus in the West Bank, paired with the rise in infection rates across Israel, authorities declared that on Thursday, sample coronavirus tests will be carried out at checkpoints for Palestinians who hold a permit to work in Israel.

The tests will be carried out by the Alon Command, the Israel Defense Forces program in charge of epidemiological investigations, in partnership with the Civil Administration, which administers the West Bank.

Palestinian workers will have to give consent to undergo testing. However, Palestinians that refuse testing will not be permitted to enter Israel.

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