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Health Ministry expected to back vaccination for those recovered from COVID

Recommendation by taskforce likely to be approved, with all who have beaten back the coronavirus allowed to get a shot 3 months after recovery

An Israeli man receives a vaccine at a Meuhedet COVID-19 vaccination center in Kfar Chabad, on February 16, 2021. (Flash90)
An Israeli man receives a vaccine at a Meuhedet COVID-19 vaccination center in Kfar Chabad, on February 16, 2021. (Flash90)

The Health Ministry is expected to recommend the inoculation of those who have recovered from COVID-19 with at least one vaccine dose, three months after recovery.

A pandemic taskforce made the recommendation following reports of individuals who’ve recovered from COVID-19 becoming reinfected.

Any policy change must be approved by Chezy Levy, the Health Ministry director-general, though he is widely expected to back the recommendation as Israel currently has a surplus of vaccine doses.

The ministry is continuing to debate how many doses in total the recovered should receive, Channel 13 News reported.

Current vaccination protocols do not call for immunizing people who have recovered from coronavirus and Israelis who overcome COVID-19 are slated to receive a “Green Pass” allowing them to take part in activities limited to the vaccinated.

But there has been speculation that people who suffer light or no symptoms may not develop effective enough antibodies to prevent reinfection.

According to the latest Health Ministry figures, over 688,000 Israelis have recovered from coronavirus infections since the pandemic began last year.

As of Thursday, nearly 4.2 million Israelis have received a first vaccine dose and 2.8 million have gotten both shots. Around 3 million Israelis are not currently eligible to be vaccinated, including those younger than 16 and people who have recovered from COVID-19, among others.

Israelis receive coronavirus vaccines and free alcohol shots at an event organized by the Tel Aviv Municipality to encourage vaccination, at a bar in Tel Aviv on February 18, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

A Tuesday survey of Israelis who have not vaccinated found that 41 percent said they fear possible side effects, 30% are not sure the vaccine is effective, 27% will vaccinate soon, 10% cited information on social media and 4% said the incentives are insufficient. Respondents were allowed to give more than one answer.

About 25% of those who haven’t been vaccinated yet said they had no intention of getting the shot.

Another Tuesday poll found that, despite a sharp increase in infections among children, only 41% of Israeli parents said they intend to vaccinate their kids once inoculations become available for those under 16. The poll, conducted by the Rushinek research institute, found that 29% of parents don’t plan on vaccinating their 6- to 15-year-olds, 30% are unsure, and 41% plan to do so, Channel 13 reported.

Vaccine hesitancy and skepticism have become a growing concern in recent weeks as Israel’s world-leading inoculation campaign has slowed. However, rates have ticked up again this week as ministers approved measures to reopen certain venues and events only to those who have been vaccinated or recovered from the virus.

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