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Nurse who almost vaccinated Netanyahu says protocols were breached

The Sheba Medical Center nurse who was set to give Israel’s first shot of the coronavirus vaccine to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last night says that it was administered in contradiction to hospital protocols.

Shoshi Gomel, who was switched at the last minute by Netanyahu‘s personal physician Tzvi Berkovitz, tells Channel 12 news that she was “excited to be chosen help bring Israel into a new era without the coronavirus,” but had the syringe taken from her hands after she had filled it with the vaccine.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu receives a coronavirus vaccine, from his personal physician Dr. Tzvi Berkovitz, at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, on December 19, 2020, becoming the first Israeli to get the vaccine (AMIR COHEN / POOL / AFP)

“Even though [Dr. Berkovitz] stood next to me and saw the dose, it is against the protocol of our hospital,” Gomel says, explaining that the person who fills the syringe must administer the vaccine.

“Maybe [Netanyahu] trusted him more…; he has received other vaccines from him in the past,” she muses. She also speculates that the Shin Bet security agency may have required that the prime minister’s own doctor administer the vaccine.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) smiles before receiving a coronavirus vaccine, from his personal physician Dr. Tzvi Berkovitz, at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan on December 19, 2020. At center in background (in blue scrubs) is nurse Shoshi Gomel (Amir Cohen/Pool/AFP)

Gomel stresses that she was not insulted to be replaced by Netanyahu’s personal physician. “He took the pressure off me,” she says.

In the event, the vaccination process proved quite protracted, with the vaccine vial requiring lengthy shaking. Berkovitz then moved to vaccinate Netanyahu in his left arm, whereas the prime minister had been sitting for long minutes with his right arm bared. Netanyahu, who is left-handed, redirected his physician and was indeed vaccinated in his right arm.

“One small injection for a man, one giant leap for the health of us all,” Netanyahu proclaimed, referencing US astronaut Neil Armstrong’s resonant words when first setting foot on the moon in 1969.

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