HealthDay News — Israel will now offer a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine to an expanded group of people, as it works to control a wave of the highly contagious omicron variant.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday that the country would provide vaccines to people older than 60 years and medical workers, Reuters reported. This is in addition to the second booster shot it approved last week for immunocompromised individuals and elderly people living in care homes. The prime minister indicated that Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash would approve the expanded booster shot campaign.
About 60 percent of Israel’s 9.4 million people are fully vaccinated with either their recent second dose or the booster dose, mostly with the Pfizer vaccine. However, even with the fourth dose possible for some, hundreds of thousands who are eligible to get their third dose have not done so.
Meanwhile, the omicron variant has caused a wave of infections worldwide, with an average of 1 million cases daily between Dec. 24 and Dec. 30, according to Reuters data. Deaths are not rising as dramatically.
Bennett estimated that the case numbers in Israel would also rise to record highs, with up to 50,000 people infected daily there soon. The country may tighten eligibility for testing to address the long lines at testing stations.
Ash said omicron could push Israel to herd immunity. “The [infection] numbers will have to be very high in order to reach herd immunity,” Ash said earlier, Reuters reported. “This is possible but we don’t want to reach it by means of infections, we want it to happen as a result of many people vaccinating.”