Israel Confident It Can Complete Vaccinations by the End of March

January 13, 2021
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Israel is vaccinating at a pace of 170,000 vaccinations per day (illustrative).

Wednesday, 13 January 2021 | On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein welcomed the arrival of an El Al cargo flight from Belgium with another 700,000 COVID-19 vaccines, manufactured by Pfizer.

  • Netanyahu said: “This is a huge day for the State of Israel. We are making a dream come true. Today more than 72% of citizens aged 60 and over have been vaccinated, and we will vaccinate all of them. Another huge shipment will arrive next Sunday, and we will begin vaccinating the next group—people aged 50 to 60, and so we will advance, at a pace of 170,000 vaccinations a day. This is a world record. We will be the first country to emerge from the coronavirus health crisis and from the coronavirus economic crisis. This is a plane full of encouragement vaccines, a plane with a dream—of emerging from the pandemic, from darkness to great light.”
  • Israel is now planning to increase the pace of vaccinations to 170,000 a day.
  • Edelstein and senior officials from his ministry are also exploring the possibility of vaccinating during the night in order to minimize overcrowding at the vaccination stations.
  • Teaching staff are now eligible to be vaccinated. The priority will be teachers who continue to work during the lockdown, including teachers of special education, youth at risk and at boarding schools for youth at risk. Preschool teaching staff will begin to receive vaccines in a few days.
  • Hospitals have also begun to administer second doses to their staff. A total of 49,897 Israelis received their second jab on Sunday.
  • Israel remains under a tight lockdown since Friday, with police checking cars across the country and fining those who have strayed beyond 1 kilometer [0,6 mi.] from their homes without good reason.
  • The Palestinian Authority [PA] said it expects to receive the vaccine in March following an agreement with AstraZeneca.

Context: So far 1.8 million Israelis have been vaccinated, accounting for around 20% of its total population.

  • Despite the rise in new cases, Coronavirus Commissioner Prof. Nachman Ash said that the tightened restrictions for the third closure have already made a positive impact on the country’s rate of infection.
  • Netanyahu has taken personal charge of the vaccinations, having cultivated a personal relationship with Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla.
  • Israel has now agreed that Pfizer will bring in regular weekly installments of the vaccine that will allow for every Israeli to be vaccinated by the end of March.
  • The incentive for Pfizer is that Israel has agreed to share its vaccination data with the pharmaceutical company, which will hopefully allow them to show Israel as a successful test case for beating the virus. Haaretz health correspondent Ido Efrati explains, “For Pfizer, statistics on vaccination in Israel, which has a very diverse population, could provide crucial data on the impact of the vaccine on groups and subgroups that could not have been studied during the company’s trials.”
  • Israel has faced some criticism for not sharing vaccinations with the Palestinians. However, under the terms of the Oslo Accords, the PA is responsible for the healthcare of its own population and has repeatedly confirmed it is obtaining its own vaccines via the UN.

Looking forward: The Health Ministry will consider easing the lockdown in another two weeks if the infection rate continues to drop. It will also take into account the progress in the vaccination campaign.

  • According to Prof. Ash, “We have not yet set a target date for the end of the closure, which is set for two weeks and is supposed to end on the night between January 22 and 23.”
  • The government’s target of vaccinating all over 16s by the end of March coincides with election day on March 23.

Posted on January 13, 2021

Source: (This article was originally published by BICOM on January 11, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Steven Cornfield/