Israel will begin rolling out a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine effective immediately. The extra dose will be given to people over 60, medical staff and people with suppressed immune systems, the Prime Minister’s Office announced, on the recommendation of the country’s panel of coronavirus experts.
“Great news, don’t waste your time – get vaccinated,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.
Those who qualify for the fourth dose will receive it provided that at least four months have passed since their third dose.
“The State of Israel remains at the forefront of global efforts to cope with the pandemic. The citizens of Israel were the first in the world to receive the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and we also continue to pioneer the fourth dose,” Bennett said.
In a related announcement, the recommended interval between a second and third dose is also being shortened from five months to three months.
One of the expert panel members told Israeli radio on Tuesday evening that the decision to go for a fourth dose was not an easy one.
“We don’t really have data on the level of immunity yet, like we had when we decided on the third dose, but then again, there’s really scary data in the rest of the world,” said Professor Galia Rahav.
“If you don’t act immediately in a situation like this, you’re missing the train,” she added.
New measures: The government’s ministerial committee charged with guiding policy on the pandemic also met on Tuesday and decided on a number of new measures in the wake of the new wave of infections caused by the Omicron variant. .
In particular, students who live in areas where there is little use of vaccines among young people under the age of 18 can start taking online education again as early as this week.
In areas with high numbers of Covid-19 cases, the so-called red or orange communities, school classes will only be held in which at least 70% of children have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Lessons with a lower vaccination coverage are taught online. The new policy is effective immediately for children 13 and older; for younger children, it starts in three weeks.
There will also be an increased requirement for Israelis to show a “Green Pass” when shopping. For example, it will now be mandatory to show the pass to enter or work in a store larger than 100 square meters.
Earlier in the evening, it was announced that public sector workplaces would reduce the number of employees working on location by half. The measure will take effect on Sunday and will apply for at least one month.
A few days ago, Prime Minister Bennett asked private sector companies to encourage staff to work from home as much as possible.
Some context: The latest Omicron data in Israel shows 341 confirmed cases, more than two-thirds of which were in people who were either fully vaccinated or who had recently recovered from the disease. In addition, there are more than 800 cases of high suspicion of the Omicron variant.
The total number of new Covid-19 cases in Israel exceeded 1,300 on Monday, a figure not reached since mid-October.
The R coefficient — the number of people infected by each Covid-19-positive person — stands at 1.28, the highest figure since the peak of the fourth wave in early August.