The rules for Israel's proof of vaccination pass – called the Green Pass – will change this Sunday with new regulations determining who is eligible for the pass.
From Sunday, all Green Passes currently in use were meant to expire and those eligible for new passes must get them reissued. However, technical glitches on the Health Ministry's website overnight into Sunday, apparently due to heavy traffic to it, meant many people couldn't register for new passes. The ministry said the old passes will remain in effect "for the next few days."
In general, the new eligibility rules stipulate that those reissuing their Green Pass must have received their third jab of the coronavirus vaccine, or their second dose in the past 6 months. In some stickier situations, keep reading for information on the specifics.
As of Thursday, some 1.6 million Israelis who are entitled to receive the third dose of the coronavirus vaccine still have not done so, meaning they will be ineligible for the new green passport. The new Green Pass documents will include a digital signature, which business owners are supposed to scan before granting holders entry.
Why is the Green Pass being changed?
Starting in July, an increasing amount of vaccinated people became infected with COVID-19, mostly above the age of 60.
Studies showed that this was due to a drop in the effectiveness of the vaccine, as a result of a decline in the antibodies in those vaccinated.
Data from the drug company Pfizer, which developed the vaccines Israel largely used to inoculate its population, found the vaccine was 90 percent effective in preventing infection from the delta variant of the virus. The Health Ministry also released similar data early on in their vaccine campaign – but later announced that the effectiveness of the vaccine had decreased and reached only 40 percent in July.
The drop in the vaccine’s effectiveness led to a rise in infection, and as a result, to a rise in the number of patients hospitalized in serious condition and in the number of deaths.
As a result, the Health Ministry decided to administer booster shots – and so far it seems that those who have received a third dose of the vaccine are significantly more protected than others, including those who have received two shots.
Because of the effectiveness of the third dose and the decrease in effectiveness of the first two doses, the Health Ministry has decided that only people who have received the third dose (or their second dose within the past 6 months) will be eligible for the Green Pass as of Sunday. This new green passport will be valid for six months starting from the date of the third vaccination. The Health Ministry has not yet formulated a policy on what will happen after these six months.
What happens if I received only the first two doses?
According to studies, the effectiveness of the second dose of the vaccine decreases a few months from after it is received, so those who have received the second shot of the vaccine within the past six months will be considered protected and vaccinated.
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Those newly vaccinated with two doses will receive the Green Pass for six months, after which they will be required to take the third dose to maintain the green passport. To receive the Green Pass under the circumstances, one must wait a week after receiving a second shot of the Pfizer vaccine, or two weeks after receiving the second Moderna jab.
I’ve recovered from the coronavirus. Am I eligible for the green passport?
The Health Ministry recommends that those who have recovered from the virus receive a single dose of the vaccine.
Formerly, recovered COVID-19 patients have been eligible for the Green Pass even if they did not receive the vaccine. But this week, the Health Ministry announced that those who have recovered will be eligible for green passports in the six months following their recovery, after which they will be required to receive a single dose of the vaccine to maintain the pass.
Prof. Nachman Ash, the director general of the Health Ministry, made the decision after evidence showed that immunity to the virus among recovered COVID-19 patients faded over time.
The Green Pass for those who have recovered and received a vaccine shot will remain valid until March 31, 2022, and after that the matter will be reexamined.
Research conducted by the Gertner Institute for epidemiology and health policy research, which advises the Health Ministry, showed that people who recovered from COVID-19 and were vaccinated with a single dose have protection similar to those who have been vaccinated with three doses. The data was presented at the beginning of the month to a COVID-19 advisory team – which decided at the time not to recommend requiring vaccination after recovery from the virus as a condition for receiving the Green Pass.
Those who have been infected by the virus after testing positive for coronavirus antibodies in a serological test, and who have received at least one dose of the vaccine are also considered to be protected and eligible for the Green Pass.
What happens if I became ill with COVID-19, was vaccinated, and six months has passed since then?
A person who has recovered from the coronavirus and was vaccinated (meaning has received two shots of the vaccine) is described as “recovered-vaccinated,” even if more than six months have passed since they received the vaccine. For now, the recovered and vaccinated are not required to receive further doses of the vaccine.
What if I came down with the coronavirus after being vaccinated?
A person who was vaccinated and infected with the virus later is considered to be protected from the virus regardless of how many doses of the vaccine they received, or how much time has passed since then.
What about children who are unable to be vaccinated?
The Green Pass is required from children aged three and up. Children 12-years-old and under who tested negative for the coronavirus through a PCR test as part of the “Education Shield” (Magen Hinuch) program are eligible for the Green Pass for seven days. Other children can undergo rapid COVID-19 tests to receive a Green Pass valid for 24 hours.
Where will I be required to show my green passport?
Places that operate according to the Green Pass program are supposed to inspect it at the entrance, including cultural and sports events, festivals, halls, conferences and exhibitions, hotels, gyms, closed swimming pools, houses of worship that hold over 50 people, restaurants, bars, cafes, museums, libraries, tourist attractions, amusement parks, universities and institutions of higher education.
Will I need to show the Green Pass at the entrance to medical institutions?
No. But some hospitals recently began asking for a Green Pass from people who require non-urgent medical treatment and visitors.
The Health Ministry announced that the issue of denying entrance to those who do not have green passports is being discussed in court, addressing "the problematic nature of keeping any medical treatment from a person who does not follow the guidelines of the Green Pass.” Ash said he is aware that preventing infection inside hospitals is important, however the Green Pass program stipulates that medical institutions are exempt from the program's admission regulations as they are an essential service
At the same time, Ash added that the hospitals are allowed to ask a patient to take a rapid COVID-19 test – at their own expense – before carrying out a medical procedure that could lead to infections. Hospitals are also allowed to postpone a medical procedure that is not urgent, but they must not prevent the procedure from taking place.
Ash said that hospitals need to use their judgement when determining whether to allow a visitor in to accompany a patient if they do not meet the conditions for the green passport, “for example if they show symptoms of the disease.” In any case, hospitals have been forbidden to allow patient's caregivers into hospitals to assist them.
How can I receive the new Green Pass?
The green passport can be issued either on the Health Ministry’s website or through the Ramzor (Stoplight) app. Other possibilities include self-service stations, through Kol Habriut call center representatives by calling *5400, or through the interactive voice response service at phone number (02) 508-2000.