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Over 1 million Israelis who haven’t had 3rd dose to lose Green Pass on Sunday

Many won’t be able to access certain public places and gatherings without a negative virus test after policy change requiring booster shot six months after 2nd COVID-19 vaccine

A sign at the entrance to a shop in Jerusalem, allowing entry to Green Pass holders only, and regulations concerning masks, social distancing, on August 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A sign at the entrance to a shop in Jerusalem, allowing entry to Green Pass holders only, and regulations concerning masks, social distancing, on August 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

From Sunday, more than one million Israelis will lose their Green Pass after a policy change dictated that a COVID-19 booster shot is required six months after receiving the first two doses.

Health Ministry data on Monday showed that 4,710,716 Israelis were vaccinated with two doses six months ago, but only 3,243,641 of them have been administered a booster dose.

Even subtracting the hundreds of thousands infected with COVID-19 in the past six months, meaning they wouldn’t need the third vaccine dose, the number of people who will no longer have a so-called Green Pass is over a million.

The pass is only valid from one week after receiving the last required dose, and for six months after. The document, held by those who are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19, enables access to many public places and events, including restaurants and museums.

A temporary Green Pass can be obtained through a negative virus test, which must be paid for unless the individual is not eligible for vaccination.

Separately the ministry announced this week that recovered COVID-19 patients will be required to get a single coronavirus vaccine dose after they were diagnosed, in order to remain eligible to receive a Green Pass. Previously all recoverees were eligible.

Kids show their Green Pass as they queue at the entrance of the Science Museum in Jerusalem, on August 19, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Additionally starting Sunday, those infected after receiving a vaccine will only keep their pass for another six months. Then, the ministry will re-examine those cases, it said.

Israel — the first country to officially offer a third dose — began its COVID-19 booster campaign on August 1, initially rolling it out to those over the age of 60. It then gradually dropped the eligibility age, eventually expanding it to everyone aged 12 and up who received the second shot at least five months ago.

A teacher receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Jerusalem, on August 24, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The high-level coronavirus cabinet will also convene on Sunday for the first time in a month, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reportedly set to resist imposing any new coronavirus restrictions despite hundreds of new COVID deaths.

Since the last coronavirus cabinet meeting, over 600 Israelis have died of COVID-19. The number of overall serious cases is slightly lower than then, with 760 recorded on August 30, compared to 641 on Monday.

On Monday, government figures placed the basic reproduction rate of the virus, which measures transmission, at 0.78. Any number over 1 indicates infections are rising, while a figure below that signals that an outbreak is abating.

While Israel’s fourth wave of infections has seen record numbers of daily cases, the number of patients needing hospitalization has remained lower than previous bouts, which experts attribute to the country’s high vaccination rates.

Healthcare worker performs a COVID-19 rapid antigen test in Jerusalem, on September 26, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The death toll since the start of the pandemic rose Monday to 7,684. September is the second consecutive month that Israel has recorded at least 500 deaths, after August saw 609 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

At the same time, ministry figures showed 3,819 new infections on Sunday, continuing a slow downward trend, though testing tends to decline sharply over the weekends. The testing positivity rate on Sunday was down to 4.19 percent.

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