The Health Ministry notified the country’s health management organizations Wednesday that the delivery of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for children, which had been scheduled to arrive the previous evening, would not reach the country until next week, Hebrew media reported.
Child-size doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccines, intended for those aged 5-11, will instead arrive next Tuesday and the vaccines will be available for the public the following day, November 24, according to the reports.
Health providers had reportedly been gearing up to start vaccinating children starting Sunday.
The Health Ministry was still waiting for an explanation for the delay, the Kan public broadcaster said.
When the adult doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech shots were first approved for use last year, Israel secured a place high on the list of receiving countries, with then-prime minister Benjamin Natanyahu personally negotiating deals with the company’s CEO.
Though the government is keen to start vaccination for children, there are still some issues that need to be dealt with, Health Ministry director-general Nachman Ash told a gathering of pediatric doctors, the network reported.
Two key matters are vaccinations for children who have recovered from COVID-19, and the period of time to set between the first and second doses of the vaccine. The United States Food and Drug Administration has recommended a standard three-week wait between the shots.
Ash said there will be a meeting of Health Ministry experts on the matter on Sunday.
“I am not sure there is a basis to change it, but we need to think about it,” he said.
Ash stressed the importance that doctors will play in reassuring parents to get the vaccine.
“The vaccine prevents morbidity that can be complicated in a child,” he said. “Therefore, the vaccine is preferred and we call on you to encourage parents to vaccinate children.”
On Sunday, Ash approved giving COVID-19 vaccines to kids ages 5-11, adopting the recommendation made by a government panel of medical experts last week.
Vaccination with two shots and a follow-up booster is already available to all those aged 12 and up in Israel.
The Israeli approval came days after the US Food and Drug Administration granted the vaccine authorization for the 5-11 age group, paving the way for the US to begin immunizing younger kids.
So far, over a million children in the US have been given the shots.