Despite a sharp increase in infections among children, only 41 percent of Israeli parents say they intend to vaccinate their kids, a television poll found.
The poll, conducted by the Rushinek research institute, found that 29% of parents don’t plan on vaccinating their 6- to 15-year-olds, 30% are unsure, and 41% plan to do so, Channel 13 reported.
Among the general public, the percentage of parents planning to vaccinate their children was 51%, while in the ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities that figure was 35% and 32%, respectively.
In January, the Health Ministry announced it was allowing the inoculation of high school students aged 16-18, subject to parental approval. The vaccination of the teens is intended to allow them to return to schools and take their winter bagrut matriculation exams on schedule.
So far, only some 40% of high school students in grades 11-12 have received the vaccine, Channel 13 reported.
The issue of vaccine hesitancy and skepticism has been a concern, with Israel’s world-leading inoculation campaign slowing in recent weeks. But rates were on the rise again this week as ministers approved measures to reopen certain venues and events only to those who have been vaccinated or previously contracted the virus.
Health officials have also said that the British strain of the virus is causing worrying levels of infection in children and young people, as well as serious illness in a number of pregnant women.
Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health at the Health Ministry, said in January that there was a rise in infections in children aged six to nine, the first age group to return to the classroom after previous lockdowns.
On Sunday, the Health Ministry sent a notice to hospitals around the country, warning that a further increase in infections among children is expected, and requested data regarding the number of staff trained to treat children, Channel 13 reported.
Though it is an unlikely scenario according to health officials, hospitals were requested to prepare to treat 100 serious child coronavirus patients daily.
Coronavirus czar Nachman Ash said Monday that he hopes vaccines will roll out to children “once we have the results from the Pfizer trials, which we expect from April.”
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Tuesday morning that overall vaccination rates were rising, with Israel expected to pass a landmark later in the day.
“Today we will pass the threshold of four million vaccinated in Israel, of whom 2,612,000 also received the second vaccine,” Edelstein said. “And we continue to increase the daily number of vaccines [administered] — yesterday, 156,000 people were vaccinated.
“Anyone who does not get vaccinated will be left behind. Yesterday the coronavirus cabinet confirmed the position of the Health Ministry that only the vaccinated and those who have recovered [from the virus] can enjoy gyms and leisure events. Go get vaccinated!” Edelstein said.
The Health Ministry said Monday night that 3,451 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 out of 47,401 tests conducted. The positivity rate stood at 7.6%.
The total number of cases since the pandemic started hit 730,293, including 54,401 active cases. They include 935 serious cases, of which 350 were in critical condition and 268 on ventilators.
The death toll climbed to 5,414.