Israel to offer COVID boosters 3 months after second vaccine dose
Health Ministry updates booster guidelines amid Omicron spread, citing ‘need to raise the level of immunity among the entire population as quickly as possible’
The Health Ministry on Monday announced that Israelis will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot three months after being vaccinated, citing concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant — against which two doses appear to be less effective.
Under the previous Health Ministry guidance, boosters were offered to people five months after they received their second vaccine dose or recovered from the disease.
Under the updated guidelines, the ministry said people who recovered from COVID can also now request a booster three months after getting their second vaccine shot.
“The coronavirus morbidity figures in Israel and the world indicate a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus infections, and the Omicron variant in particular,” a Health Ministry statement said.
“Now, in light of the Omicron wave, there is an increased need to raise the level of immunity among the entire population as quickly as possible,” it added, noting that several European countries have recently recommended boosters after three months.
The new guidance will apply to the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines, the first of which has been primarily used in Israel. The ministry recommended that people receive a booster of the same vaccine with which they were initially inoculated.
The move comes after this week’s planned rollout of a fourth dose to those over 60 and others at high risk was delayed, in light of growing signs that Omicron causes milder illness than other variants despite spreading faster and better evading vaccines.
Israel had been set to become the first country in the world to offer a fourth dose for certain groups. Many experts have backed administering an additional booster shot, although others have cautioned it may be better to wait for a new vaccine that is tailored to the Omicron variant.
Earlier Monday, Sheba Medical Center began a study on the efficacy of administering a fourth dose, with results expected in about two weeks. The study had been set to begin two weeks ago, but was delayed because it had not received the necessary approvals.
AP contributed to this report.