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Hospitals to join COVID-19 vaccination effort next week

Health Ministry says move is aimed at ‘significantly’ boosting pace of inoculation drive

A medical worker receives a COVID-19 vaccine at Ziv Medical Center in the northern city of Safed, December 21, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)
A medical worker receives a COVID-19 vaccine at Ziv Medical Center in the northern city of Safed, December 21, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The Health Ministry on Wednesday said hospitals would begin administering COVID-19 vaccines to the general public next week, as Israel seeks to expand its national vaccination campaign.

A ministry statement said the move was aimed at “significantly” increasing the pace of the vaccine drive. It didn’t say how Israelis could schedule an appointment to be vaccinated at hospitals or provide any further details on the move as of yet.

Hospitals have only been vaccinating medical workers, with healthcare organizations tasked with providing vaccines to other Israelis.

The Health Ministry announcement came as the Oxford University-based Our World in Data website published figures showing Israel leading the world in the number of people per capita to receive the vaccine.

The ranking was skewed by the fact that Israel’s data appeared to be up to date, while figures from other countries were from several days back. Still, Israel was likely to remain near the head of the pack when data was synced up.

An Israeli man receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a Maccabi Healthcare Services vaccination center in Tel Aviv on December 22, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

In Israel, which kicked off its vaccination campaign on Sunday, 0.83 of every 100 people have been immunized against the novel coronavirus, according to the latest data. The United Kingdom, which began vaccinating citizens on December 8, was ranked second with 0.74 vaccinated per 100 people, as of December 21.

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted a chart showing the figures, declaring: “Tremendous success!”

Health Ministry Yuli Edelstein also touted Israel’s supposed first-place ranking.

“This is how we defeat the coronavirus,” he was quoted saying in a Health Ministry statement.

Figures released by the ministry in the morning showed close to 75,000 vaccines have been administered so far, including nearly 45,000 on Tuesday.

The national vaccination program began on Sunday, with medical workers getting the first injections. Starting Monday, vaccinations were opened up to those aged 60 and up, as well as those in risk groups.

The government has not yet specified when the vaccines will be made available to the wider public.

The launch of the vaccination program comes as Israel faces a rise in daily infections, with ministers convening Wednesday to discuss imposing a third national lockdown.

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