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Netanyahu: Israel readying for new vaccination drive in 6 months, including kids

PM tells Israelis to ‘prepare their shoulders’ again after deals for millions more vaccines reached with Pfizer, Moderna

A young Israeli receives a COVID-19 vaccine injection, at a Clalit vaccination center in Holon, February 4, 2021. (Chen Leopold/Flash90)
Illustrative: A young Israeli receives a COVID-19 vaccine injection, at a Clalit vaccination center in Holon, February 4, 2021. (Chen Leopold/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said Israel was readying for another coronavirus vaccination campaign in six months that will include children, after inking new deals with Pfizer and Moderna to buy millions more doses.

“Prepare your shoulders… and kids,” he said during a press conference, predicting COVID-19 vaccines would be approved for use in children by then.

He also warned of possible new coronavirus variants or even “a new virus,” saying there would be no further COVID-19 resurgence if there are no such “surprises.”

Netanyahu’s forecast appeared to based on remarks by Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, who said last week that he believes a third dose of the company’s vaccine will be necessary “somewhere between 6-12 months” after getting the first two doses, and annually after that. Pfizer has said the vaccine it developed with Germany’s BioNTech remains 91% effective after 6 months.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference at his office in Jerusalem on April 20, 2021.(Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The premier’s comments came a day after Israel closed the new supply deals with Pfizer and Moderna. The exact number of doses from each company remains secret, but Hebrew media reports said Israel agreed to pay for a total of 18 million shots from the two American companies, with the option to purchase millions more after those have been used.

Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, December 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

According to the deal, the doses to be supplied will be adapted to the different variants of the virus, if needed.

Israel has yet to give a precise timeline on when vaccines will be authorized for children. Earlier this month, Pfizer asked for authorization to use its COVID-19 vaccine on 12- to 15-year-olds in the United States.

Their request to the Food and Drug Administration in the US came after Phase 3 clinical trials of the Pfizer vaccine in the age group were 100 percent effective in warding off the disease, according to the companies.

The Israeli Pediatric Associated has called for parents and family doctors to vaccinate their children when the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for those children. Currently, the vaccine has emergency authorization for use in people 16 and older.

Nearly 5 million Israelis, over half of its total population, have received both doses of the vaccine.

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