Israel administered its 500,000th coronavirus vaccine shot Tuesday evening, crossing the milestone just over a week after the start of its vaccination campaign as figures show the Jewish state leading the world in the immunization rate by a large margin.
David Herzl Levy was accompanied by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion as he received his shot in a Jerusalem Clalit clinic, taking Israel over the half a million mark.
“We worked to bring millions of vaccines to Israel, and now through Health Ministry, the hospitals and the health funds, which are managing a huge operation, we have reached this achievement,” Netanyahu, who was the first Israeli to receive the shot, said at the event.
“My mission is to ensure the continuation of this pace,” he said. “If we continue like this, we will be the first country in the world to emerge from the coronavirus [pandemic].”
Earlier Tuesday, the Health Ministry said 21 percent of Israelis over the age of 60 have already received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
According to Health Ministry data, among those aged 60-69, there have been 146,046 shots administered. The number for those aged 70-79 was 114,931; for ages 80-89 it was 39,293; and for those aged 90 or over it was 5,655.
Tens of thousands of younger Israelis have also been vaccinated, mostly because they work in healthcare or other jobs with a high risk of COVID-19 infection.
On a per-capita basis, the cities with the highest vaccination rates were Arad, Kiryat Shemona and Kiryat Tivon. Those with the lowest rates were Modiin Illit, Segev Shalom and Tel Sheva, according to the Ynet news site.
In absolute numbers, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa had the most residents to be vaccinated.
Israel began its vaccination drive on December 20, focusing on healthcare workers, over 60s, and at-risk groups, and is leading the world in vaccinations per capita.
Some health providers have now told people aged 55-59 who have risk factors to book an appointment to get the shot.
Officials have said they aim to reach 150,000 vaccinations a day in the course of this week, and Netanyahu has set a goal of having some 2.25 million Israelis — nearly a quarter of Israel’s 9.2 million population — vaccinated by the end of January.
Channel 12 news said Monday night that Israel expects to receive a total of 3.8 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine by Thursday — enough to vaccinate 1.9 million people, since the Pfizer vaccine is given in two shots, three weeks apart.
Israel currently ranks first globally in vaccinations per capita, slightly ahead of Bahrain and quite significantly ahead of other countries, according to the University of Oxford-run Our World in Data.