Israel said set to begin vaccinating children aged 5-11 next week

Special kid-sized doses reportedly to arrive in coming days; Health Ministry chief says officials want to get campaign underway as soon as possible

Illustrative: A girl, 6, receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11 at Lurie Children's hospital in Chicago, November 5, 2021. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)
Illustrative: A girl, 6, receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11 at Lurie Children's hospital in Chicago, November 5, 2021. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Israel will be ready to begin vaccinating children aged 5-11 against the coronavirus at the beginning of next week, after the special vaccine doses for that age group arrive later this week, Hebrew media reported Sunday.

The children’s Pfizer-BioNTech shots, each just one-third the size of the adult doses, are scheduled to arrive Wednesday, or at the latest Thursday, according to reports.

In the coming days, medical teams will receive instructions on administering the doses, Channel 12 news reported.

The vaccines will be given at the country’s health maintenance organization clinics.

In addition, the Health Ministry is holding discussions on sending mobile vaccination units to some outlying areas, the network reported.

On Wednesday, the Health Ministry’s vaccination committee will meet to discuss the gap between the first and second doses for children, the Ynet website reported. The FDA has recommended a three-week wait between the doses.

Earlier in the day, Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash said the country was only waiting for the vaccines to arrive to begin the vaccination campaign.

“We want to start this as soon as possible,” Ash told Ynet in an interview.

Ash said the vaccines will be administered via the country’s health providers (HMOs), as that had been found to be the most efficient way to give the shots to the public.

“We assess that parents will accompany the young children so it is most convenient to arrive at an HMO clinic at times that they [the parents] choose,” he said. “We will also allow [vaccinations] in schools and in local authorities’ sites.”

Health Minister Director-General Nachman Ash speaks during a meeting at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan on October 24, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Last Wednesday, a government panel of experts approved coronavirus vaccinations for children, following the lead of the United States.

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. However, experts say that a long struggle lies ahead to convince parents to accept the shots.

A Pfizer study of 2,268 children found the vaccine was almost 91-percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections. The US Food and Drug Administration studied the shots in 3,100 vaccinated kids in concluding the shots are safe.

In Israel, full-size Pfizer shots are already recommended for anyone 12 or older, but pediatricians and many parents are anxiously awaiting protection for younger children to stem infections from the extra-contagious Delta variant and to help keep kids out of quarantine and in school.

Israel appears to be at the tail end of its fourth coronavirus wave, as new infections and serious cases have ticked down over the past few weeks.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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