The Health Ministry was holding its first discussion Thursday on approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11, with the proceedings live-streamed to the public for transparency.
The discussion comes a week after the US Food and Drug Administration okayed the vaccine for that age group and a day after the United States started administering the shot to them.
The discussion was not set to immediately yield a final decision Thursday. It was being aired live, taking questions from a pre-vetted group of 20 people.
“The Israel Center for Disease Control [ICDC] decided to broadcast the debate live, and invite the public to both voice their position to the committee members and to present questions to the experts, as part of a transparent process on the subject,” the ministry said in a statement last week.
Those wishing to be included in the panel were invited to submit a request, including a reason for their participation. In total, 20 people from the public were randomly selected and given three minutes each during the debate, the ministry said.
The ministry also said the public can submit questions related to the hearing, some of which will be addressed by the committee members.
Health Ministry officials have said that Israel could greenlight coronavirus vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 starting mid-November, following the approval of the shots by US regulators.
In Israel, full-strength Pfizer shots are already recommended for anyone 12 or older, but pediatricians and many parents are anxiously awaiting protection for younger children to stem infections from the extra-contagious Delta variant and to help keep kids out of quarantine and in school.
The shots for children under 12 are expected to be one-third the dose for adults.
Israel appears to be at the tail end of its fourth coronavirus wave, as new infections and serious cases have ticked down over the past few weeks.
The Health Ministry said on Thursday that 605 new coronavirus cases were confirmed the previous day, with a positive testing rate of 0.75%. There were 6,952 active cases, including 251 patients hospitalized. Of them, 185 were in serious condition, with 114 of them on respirators.
Israel’s total COVID death toll since the start of the pandemic stands at 8,109.