Israeli President Isaac Herzog receives a third dose of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine while his wife, Michal, reacts, at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel Photograph:( Reuters )
About 55 percent of Israel's population has been double vaccinated, most with the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, thanks to a massive campaign launched in late December after an agreement with its developers
Israeli President Isaac Herzog receives the third dose of the Pfizer vaccine kicking off a campaign to give booster doses to people aged over 60 as part of efforts to slow the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
He said he was proud to launch the booster vaccination initiative "which is so vital to enable normal circumstances of life as much as possible in this very challenging pandemic". Herzog's wife Michal also received a shot.
The couple were accompanied by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who urged the importance of booster shots in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and pledged that Israel would share all the information it gleans from the public inoculation rollout.
"Israel is a pioneer in going ahead with the third dose for older people of the age of 60 and above. The fight against the COVID pandemic is a global fight. The only way we can defeat COVID is together," Bennett said.
Israel's digitised medical databases allowed for rapid large-scale studies, and its initial vaccine rollout of the jab was among the world's fastest.
The country was quick to roll out its vaccination campaign and had dropped many restrictions on public gatherings in June, but infections soared, and masks are once again mandatory in enclosed public places.
Daily new infections have spiked to more than 2,000, up from a handful of cases per day a few months ago and about 160 people are currently hospitalised with severe symptoms. More than 6,400 people have died from the virus.
About 55 percent of its nine million population has been double vaccinated, most with the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, thanks to a massive campaign launched in late December after an agreement with its developers.
Pfizer, which produces the vaccine used in Israel, has said research shows that a third dose has neutralising effects against the Delta variant of Covid.
But the US Food and Drug Administration, whose recommendations Israel generally follows, has yet to give the green light to administering a third dose to the elderly.
(With inputs from agencies)