Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said victory over the coronavirus pandemic depends on around half a million Israelis aged over 50 who have not yet vaccinated.
“If those 570,000 people over 50 get vaccinated, it’ll not only be the last lockdown, but we’ll be done with COVID. Period,” Netanyahu told Channel 12 in an interview.
“We’re working together. We’re leading the world on vaccines. We’ll be the first to emerge from the coronavirus,” he added.
“I call on all of those 570,000 people over the age of 50 who have not yet been vaccinated: Go and get vaccinated! Not just for your own health and your own lives but for the health of all us,” he said.
“Our triumph over the pandemic depends on you,” he said.
“[The over-50s group] is where the most fatalities occur, nearly 100%. It’s also where the seriously ill are, nearly 100%,” he said.
“When they go to the hospitals, they block them for others, so the younger begin to get ill and some die.”
“Those who don’t vaccinate won’t be able to,” he concluded. “I want first and foremost to protect those who are vaccinated, and to encourage those who haven’t vaccinated.”
Earlier Monday, the cabinet decided to reopen parts of Israel’s economy, operating on a “green passport” basis whereby vaccinated Israelis or those that have been infected with the virus and recovered will be allowed to go to the movies, attend gyms and other cultural and sports events.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said his ministry was reviewing legislation that would require unvaccinated teachers and workers who deal with customers in person to take a test every two days.
“A teacher who does not get vaccinated neglects the wellbeing of the students and their most important role: to protect the children,” he said.
Netanyahu also told Channel 12 that he is negotiating with Pfizer and Moderna pharmaceutical companies to open plants in Israel and provide tens of millions of vaccines for the coming years.
“I am negotiating with them to build two factories in Israel that will turn Israel into a world center in the fight against coronavirus,” he said.
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) February 15, 2021
The Moderna facility would be a filling center for vaccine vials, Netanyahu said, while the Pfizer site would be for “research and development for the fight against future viruses.”
He said he had spoken to executives at both companies in a bid to ensure the country has enough vaccines for the booster shot each year.
“I want to be in a situation where the religious, secular, the Right, the Left, Arabs, Jews, all to get vaccinated now, and I want to make sure they have the vaccines they require in the future,” Netanyahu said.
Close to four million Israelis had received their first dose of the vaccine with over 2.5 million having received both doses.
A total of 5,406 have died from the virus, according to Health Ministry statistics released Monday.