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Israel hopes to start vaccinating general public in 7-10 days, top official says

TV report predicts life could return to ‘something like normal’ by end of Feb. because the at-risk population will be vaccinated and threat of overwhelmed health service will pass

A Jerusalem woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a center run by the Clalit healthcare provider (courtesy of Clalit)
A Jerusalem woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a center run by the Clalit healthcare provider (courtesy of Clalit)

Israel aims to begin vaccinating the general public within 7-10 days, a top Health Ministry official said Friday night.

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, the acting head of the Health Ministry’s public health services, told Channel 12 news that the ministry intends to move quickly to vaccinations 24/7, and “we hope in 7-10 days” to start vaccinating the general public.

Over 200,000 Israelis were vaccinated this week — with the focus on healthcare workers, people aged over 60 and at-risk groups — placing Israel second in the world in vaccinations per capita, after Bahrain, according to the University of Oxford-run Our World in Data.

In the course of next week, the ministry aims to reach a daily rate of 100,000 vaccinations, meaning that the vast majority of the population should be vaccinated by the end of March if that rate is maintained. Israeli hospitals are to join the vaccination effort next week, and hundreds of IDF medics will also participate, to help expedite the process.

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis. (Courtesy)

Asked on Channel 12 whether this meant Israel would essentially have completed its vaccination drive by March 23’s election day, Alroy-Preis carefully avoided a direct answer but stressed that the ministry was doing everything in its power to expedite the arrival of sufficient vaccine doses and to accelerate the inoculation program. The Pfizer vaccines which Israel is using require two doses, three weeks apart.

Alroy-Preis also said vaccinations in elderly care facilities should be largely completed by the end of next week.

Channel 13 news reported that the at-risk population should be largely vaccinated by the end of February, which would mean that Israel could return then to “something like normal life,” since there would no longer be a danger of COVID-19 cases overwhelming the health service.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu predicted on Thursday that Israel would likely be the first country in the world to overcome the pandemic. “I want to tell you that the combination of the marvelous vaccine campaign on the one hand, and a short and quick lockdown on the other, is allowing us to get out of the coronavirus [pandemic],” Netanyahu said in a statement. “And we’ll likely be the first country to get out of [it], within a few weeks,” he added.

While the vaccination drive is moving quickly ahead, Israel’s virus contagion rates are also rising, however, and the country is going into a third nationwide lockdown on Sunday.

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