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'1,080,000 haven't been vaccinated at all. That must change'

Minister dispatches mobile vaccine units to towns with low inoculation rates

Horowitz says vaccine distribution is a socioeconomic issue, with wealthier individuals more likely to get shots than poorer Israelis; 3rd dose expected to be approved for over 30s

Israelis stand in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at a Magen David Adom mobile vaccine unit in the town of Kafr Qasim on August 23, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Israelis stand in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at a Magen David Adom mobile vaccine unit in the town of Kafr Qasim on August 23, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

In an effort to reach the over one million Israelis who remain unvaccinated, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announced a plan Monday that will dispatch mobile vaccination units to communities with particularly low vaccination rates.

Horowitz in a statement said that the low inoculation numbers are a function of socioeconomic status, with long-neglected Arab Israeli communities among the country’s least vaccinated.

The towns and cities with the lowest vaccination rates in Israel are Jerusalem, Ar’ara, Kuseife, Hura, Beersheba, Rahat, Beit Shemesh, Ashdod, Lod, Elad, Kafr Qasim, Tira, Bnei Brak, Qalansawe, Harish, Baqa al-Gharbiya, Afula, Nazareth, Daliyat al-Karmel, Kafr Manda, Shfaram, Tamra, Tiberias, Safed and Jadeidi-Makr.

“Rich people are getting vaccinated more. Weaker populations — much less,” Horowitz said. “I will not give up on these groups — not on my watch.”

Presenting the “Vaccines to your home,” program, Horowitz said, “We are raising the number of service locations and aim to reach maximal inoculation rates for boosters — and for first doses.”

“Israel has 1,080,000 [eligible] people who have not been vaccinated at all. I want to create a significant change in this number. It can be a deciding factor in this campaign.”

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz looks on as an Israeli boy is vaccinated at a Magen David Adom mobile vaccine unit in the town of Kafr Qasim on August 23, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

“The only way for us to defeat the pandemic and not reach really serious numbers… is to vaccinate three million people with the third dose in the coming weeks,” Horowitz said.

Thus far, over a million and a half Israelis have received the third dose.

As of last week, the third dose was made available to anyone over the age of 40. Channel 12 reported Monday that Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash could sign off on extending eligibility for the boosters to those over 30 as soon as Tuesday, and may even remove the age requirement entirely.

Coronavirus figures updated by the Health Ministry Monday evening showed 6,527 new cases were recorded a day earlier. Of the 104,929 samples tested from Wednesday, 6.3% of them came back positive. The number of active cases was 68,638.

There were 664 Israelis in serious condition as a result of the virus — a decrease of 15 since midnight Thursday. The death toll stood at 6,856.

Israel also neared the milestone of one million total COVID cases since the start of the pandemic on Monday.

Despite the rising number of cases, the government has largely held off on drastic restrictions. Instead, it is counting on a booster dose campaign to stem the rising tide of infections and serious cases.

Health officials have indicated that initial data shows the booster doses are already helping to lower the rate of serious cases. Early data from the Health Ministry aired by Channel 12 news on Sunday evening appeared to show that those who have received a third vaccine dose are highly protected against the disease. According to the data, just 0.2% of the first 1.1 million Israelis who got their booster dose have been diagnosed with COVID-19 after at least seven days passed since the shot.

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