Israel’s health ministry on Thursday said it will offer a third dose of Covid-19 vaccine to people over the age of 60 years starting Sunday, news agency Haaretz reported. The ministry said the third dose will be given to those who have been vaccinated with both doses at least five months ago.
Following this announcement, Israel became the first nation to announce that it will give booster doses to prevent Covid-19 infections among vaccinated people. The move is also seen as an effort by the Israeli government to slow the spread of the Delta variant, news agency Reuters said, quoting Channel 13 TV and Kan public radio.
The health ministry earlier reported a drop in the vaccine’s effectiveness against infection along with a slight decrease in the protection the vaccine was providing against Covid-19. Experts told the Israeli health ministry that the Covid-19 vaccine’s effectiveness in severe symptoms among those aged above 60 years dropped from 97% in January to 81%.
The ministry last week estimated that the vaccine was 41% effective when it came to preventing symptomatic infections over the past month though protection against severe diseases remained strong at 91%.
An expert speaking to Haaretz also said that over 4,000 Israelis with suppressed immune systems have already been administered with a third shot and have not reported any side effects. Some experts however feel that Israel should wait a little longer to collect more information about the safety and effectiveness of the third Covid-19 jab.
Vaccine maker Pfizer on Wednesday highlighted the need for administering an additional dose to ensure high protection against Covid-19. Pfizer also said that it will apply for US emergency authorisation for booster shots within August.
Israel has vaccinated at least 57% of the 9.3 million population with both doses and vaccinated 64% with at least one dose.