Due to the swift rate of vaccination in Israel, along with the slowdown in the arrival of the vaccines, starting next week the vaccination campaign is expected to focus on administering the second dose of the vaccine. As for those who are supposed to receive the first dose of the vaccine, at this point it is not known to what extent, if at all, the health maintenance organizations and the hospitals will be able to vaccinate new recipients.
At the same time, efforts are being made to advance to mid-January the shipment of the Pfizer vaccines, which are scheduled to arrive in Israel in early February, in order to maintain the accelerated vaccination rate. “If we don’t receive additional vaccines, we will be forced to stop administering the first vaccination until the inventory is renewed,” a source in the Health Ministry told Haaretz.
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Israel is beginning the third week of the vaccination campaign with over 1 million Israelis already having received the first dose of the vaccine. Of those who have been vaccinated so far, 65 percent are aged 60 and over. Since the start of the campaign, 46 percent of people in Israel aged 60 and over have been vaccinated. If the present rate of vaccination is maintained, Israel is expected to end the present week with almost 2 million Israelis having received the first dose of the vaccine.
“Within a time period of two to three months we’ll be able to vaccinate the entire population that can be vaccinated,” said Health Minister Yuli Edelstein. “I estimate that by late March-early April most of those who so desire will be able to be vaccinated and then we can begin a large-scale opening of the economy and cultural activities.”
The HMOs are prepared to expand the vaccination regimen and increase the rate of vaccination to simultaneously vaccinate both those receiving the first dose and those receiving the second dose, but they have not yet been told whether the inventory of vaccines will make it possible. The assumption now is that beginning next week the first dose will be discontinued, and the campaign will focus on those getting the second dose.
“Another dose of the vaccine is waiting in the refrigerator for everyone who received a first vaccination. It’s very important that everyone who received the first dose of the vaccine will come to be vaccinated, because only then will he achieve good protection from the virus,” says Dr. David Mosinzon, director of the Medical Division at Meuhedet Health Services.
“At the moment we’ve made appointments for new people to be vaccinated later in the week, and our present inventory should suffice, but if we don’t receive more vaccines we’ll be forced, starting next week, to vaccinate only those receiving the second dose. We are prepared to double the amount but it turns out that we worked much faster than the plans. The rate was very fast and demand was high,” says Mosinzon.
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Haim Fernandes, director general of Leumit Health Services, says, “In general, we’re supposed to finish our allocation for the first vaccination by the middle of next week. If the government is unable to advance the shipment of vaccines, we’ll concentrate on the second dose. The second vaccination round is a challenge in itself – we have to ensure that people don’t forget, and show up. It’s a shame if there’s a decline.