Despite Expert Panel Advice, Israel Won't Offer Fourth COVID Vaccine to All Adults

Top Israeli health official expands vaccine campaign to only select few, a day after an expert panel recommended offering a fourth COVID shot to those aged 18 and above

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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A person receives a COVID vaccine in Israel, on Tuesday.
A person receives a COVID vaccine in Israel, on Tuesday.Credit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

The director-general of Israel's Health Ministry decided Wednesday against expanding the fourth COVID vaccine rollout to all Israelis over the age of 18, instead offering another shot only to those in select groups deemed high-risk of serious illness.

Israel will now offer a fourth dose of the vaccine to adults under 60 with underlying medical conditions, their caretakers, and others over 18 at significant risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Those newly eligible for the fourth shot can receive it if at least four months have passed since their third dose, Health Ministry director-general Prof. Nachman Ash decided.

On Tuesday, the expert panel advising the Health Ministry on the coronavirus recommended offering a fourth shot to those aged 18 and above, on condition that five months have passed since they received a third shot or recovered from the disease. 

Thirty-three of 49 members of the panel voted for the expansion, but their decision was criticized by other health experts who said there wasn't enough data.

According to one of them, all patients currently in serious condition are already individuals from at-risk groups. "That's why I don't see any reason to let young people without any preexisting conditions get a vaccine that doesn't prevent infection," he told Haaretz.

Formerly, Israel's fourth vaccine rollout was limited to Israelis above 60 and at-risk adults. 

The expert panel cited data showing that a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine given to people over 60 in Israel made them three times more resistant to serious illness than triple-vaccinated people in the same age group.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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