A group of experts from the Israeli Ministry of Health has approved the administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to children aged 5 to 11, paving the way for the country to become one of the first after the United States to authorize the vaccine for children.
The decision requires the approval of the director general of the Ministry of Health, dr. Nachman Ash, before it takes effect.
All but two of the 75 Israeli experts backed the move in a vote on Wednesday evening. In a separate vote, 57 experts supported vaccinating children who have already recovered from the virus.
In the United States, White House officials on Wednesday estimated that nearly a million children ages 5 to 11 have received injections since Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was cleared for use last week.
Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel was one of the first leaders in administering the vaccine to its adult population, although its rate has since fallen below that of other countries. Since taking office in June, Netanyahu’s successor, Naftali Bennett, has staked his reputation on rapid vaccine delivery in an effort to avoid another national blockade.
Israel, Bennett said, must learn to “live with the virus”.
In June, Mr. Bennett’s government was one of the first to vaccinate young people aged 12 to 15, and in July it authorized boosters for people aged 60 and over, even before such an approach was approved in the United States. Mr. Bennett granted the rest of the population access to the decoy in August, even earlier than most of the rest of the world.
The virus appears to be in retreat at the moment in Israel. The registered country 147 serious cases Wednesday, the lowest number since the end of July.
But his vaccination campaign met with some resistance, particularly after participation in many public activities was made conditional on the presentation of a vaccine passport. Faced with backlash, the Ministry of Health canceled a live broadcast this week of a round table discussion on vaccinating children and a senior health official was assigned a safety detail after receiving a series of threats.