Initial data from 200,000 inoculated Israeli children published on Thursday indicated that the COVID-19 vaccine has no major side effects, and almost no side effects in general.
Health official were most worried about myocarditis — an inflammation of the heart muscle — but only three such cases were observed among the 200,000 recipients of the vaccine between the ages of 12 and 15, data published by the Kan public broadcaster showed.
However, the report stressed that more data is needed with a larger sample to draw definitive conclusions.
Israel began vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds in early June. Vaccination is not compulsory for adolescents, only advised, and parents are able to decide if they want their children to get the shots.
The issue has been a source of controversy in the new government, with Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton repeatedly appearing to sympathize with anti-vaxxers.
When asked on Wednesday by Channel 12 why she was so opposed to vaccinating kids in school, she replied by saying that such a move is “a crime.”
Children currently receive a number of vaccines throughout the school years, with their parent’s permission. Shasha-Biton tried to explain why she won’t do the same with COVID-19 vaccines by saying kids may face bullying if their parents are anti-vaccination.
Separately on Tuesday, the Health Ministry told Israel’s healthcare providers that they can administer coronavirus vaccines to children aged 5-11 who have serious background illnesses that could make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.
Authorizations for individual children must be granted by the healthcare provider and then be validated by the ministry. The ministry’s policy would be to minimize the number of authorizations and issue them only for those with the highest risk, it said.
The Health Ministry said the medical conditions that could warrant such authorization include extreme obesity (BMI over the 99th percentile for age and sex), severe chronic lung illness, neurodevelopment disorders, congestive heart failure, sickle cell anemia and severe autoimmune diseases.