Israel starts Covid vaccine jabs for children as young as 5

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said Isarel is experiencing a 'children's wave' with ab

Israel rolled out Covid-19 vaccinations for children aged five to 11 on Tuesday, one of only a handful of countries to inoculate minors that young as it seeks to ward off another pandemic wave.

Over the summer, the Jewish state experienced an upsurge in coronavirus infections, fuelled by the Delta variant, and launched one of the earliest campaigns for booster shots.

As infections creep up again, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has pointed at a “children’s wave”, stating on Facebook that about half of the recently confirmed cases were among those below the age of 11.

Authorities had already begun immunising those aged 12 to 17 but decided to lower the age threshold in the wake of trials by Pfizer and recommendations from a panel of Israeli scientists.

Hours after the campaign to vaccinate younger minors officially launched on Tuesday, Bennett took his nine-year-old son David for a jab at a centre in the coastal city of Herzliya.

“I call on all Israeli parents to come and have their children vaccinated. It is safe and it safeguards our children,” Bennett said.

“It is important to get vaccinated so that children don’t get sick with corona and so that they won’t infect their parents.”

Parents’ hesitation ‘normal’

Doses for younger children were already being distributed on Monday night.

Outside a clinic in Tel Aviv giving the Pfizer-BioNTech jabs to children late Monday, Heli Nave said hesitation among parents was “normal”.

She said “it is not an easy decision at all”, but the availability of data from the United States — which started immunising five-to-11-year-olds earlier this month — had convinced her.

“Right now during the epidemic, the best tool to protect our children is vaccination,” Nave said.

Another mother in Tel Aviv, 47-year-old Katy Bar Shalom, told AFP she was “excited” for her children to be among the first jabbed in the 5-11 age group.

“We know we need to be vaccinated in order to get back to normal,” she said.

Israel was one of the first countries to launch vaccines against the coronavirus last year thanks to a deal with Pfizer that gave it access to millions of doses in exchange for data on the vaccine’s efficacy.

More than 5.7 million of the country’s nine million people are now fully vaccinated.

Israeli experts recommended inoculating younger minors following a green light from US regulators.


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