Bennett rolls out robocalls urging Israelis to get vaccinated

‘Make an appointment for a vaccine right now,’ prime minister exhorts citizens, as just 25% of population have received a booster shot so far

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks to US President Joe Biden, on June 13, 2021. (Courtesy: Ariel Zandberg)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks to US President Joe Biden, on June 13, 2021. (Courtesy: Ariel Zandberg)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett launched a robocall campaign on Thursday, urging hundreds of thousands of Israelis to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Hello, this is Prime Minister Naftali Bennett,” he said in the Hebrew recorded message, which circulated via WhatsApp as well as through automated phone calls. “The Delta strain of the coronavirus is attacking the countries of the world and the State of Israel has the tools to overcome it: Third doses of the vaccine and wearing masks.”

In the message, Bennett noted scientific studies which “have proven that the coronavirus vaccine is safe, effective and saves lives.” He urged citizens to “make an appointment for a vaccine right now” at any of the many available vaccination sites.

“The data proves that if we all complete the inoculations, including the third dose, we will protect our health and the economy.”

Bennett is urging the approximately one million unvaccinated Israelis to change their minds about the shot, as well as for those who are eligible to get their third dose of the vaccine. The third booster shots became available for the entire population over 12 on Sunday, as long as five months have passed since the second dose.

As of Thursday morning, 2,350,440 Israelis — more than 25 percent of the total population — have received a third dose of the vaccine. Close to 65% of the entire population — 5,995,710 million Israelis — have received at least one dose.

An Israeli man receives a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccination center organized by the Jerusalem Municipality and the Home Front Command, outside Jerusalem City Hall, on August 30, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Vaccinations ticked up slightly on Monday, the day after Health Ministry officials opened up third doses to everyone, and announced that those with three shots would not be required to quarantine upon returning from abroad.

On Monday, 115,214 Israelis received a third dose, the highest one-day figure since the campaign was rolled out to those 60 and up on August 1. On the same day, 12,441 people got the first shot, the highest one-day figure since early July. But on Wednesday, the numbers dipped once again, with just 83,315 people getting a third dose and 8,422 receiving their first shot.

Meanwhile, Israel hit yet another new record for daily cases, with 11,187 testing positive on Wednesday, the highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic.

The number of serious cases — increasingly seen as a more crucial metric since vaccines are more effective in preventing serious illness than in preventing infections — stood at 673 as of Thursday evening. On Sunday, that number was at 753.

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