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Poll: Some 25% of Israelis who haven’t vaccinated have no intention of doing so

Survey finds that 41% of unvaccinated fear side effects, 30% doubt efficacy; government relaxes rules on gatherings, allowing 20 outdoors, 10 indoors

An Israeli youth receives a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during an event to encourage the vaccination of young Israelis at a vaccination center in Holon, near Tel Aviv, Feb. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
An Israeli youth receives a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during an event to encourage the vaccination of young Israelis at a vaccination center in Holon, near Tel Aviv, Feb. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Israelis who have not vaccinated have several concerns about the shots, and a significant number of them do not intend to get inoculated, according to a Tuesday poll.

The Channel 12 survey of Israelis who have not vaccinated, which allowed them to give more than one answer, found that 41% said they fear possible side effects; 30% are not sure the vaccine is effective; 27% will vaccinate soon; 10% cited information on social media and 4% said the incentives are insufficient.

About 25% said they had no intention of vaccinating.

Asked if the planned limitations on access to various activities to those who do not vaccinate may persuade them to get the shots, 46% said no, 31% said yes and 23% said they did not know.

The survey was conducted as part of a larger poll on Israelis’ political views, which was carried out among 503 adults who are a representative sample of the Israeli population, with a margin of error of 4.4%.

However, it was not made clear how many of those queried constituted the unvaccinated group.

Another Tuesday poll found that, despite a sharp increase in infections among children, only 41% of Israeli parents said they intend to vaccinate their kids.

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.

Vaccine hesitancy and skepticism have become a growing concern in recent weeks as Israel’s world-leading inoculation campaign has slowed. However, rates have ticked up 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.

Israelis walk in Jerusalem on February 15, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The reluctance has been most pronounced among Israelis below the age of 50, including among teaching staff. The government is seeking to pass a bill that will require all workers who have a high amount of exposure to the public to either be vaccinated or have a virus test every two days.

The Health Ministry is also pushing to amend public health ordinances to allow it to hand over personal data on who has or hasn’t been vaccinated to local authorities and the Education Ministry, in a bid to boost the vaccine campaign, Hebrew media reports said.

Alongside the proposed legal measures, there have been a number of other initiatives to encourage people to get vaccinated, including free food, inoculations performed on forest trails and businesses offering incentives for employees to go and get the shot.

Channel 12 reported Tuesday that, with between 10-30% of health care workers still unvaccinated, Israel is planning on making the inoculation mandatory for them, as other vaccines are.

Four million Israelis, or some 44 percent of the country’s total population, have now received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, the Prime Minister’s Office announced Tuesday.

With the latest milestone, some two-thirds of those eligible to be immunized have received the first Pfizer-BioNTech shot. Some 1,996,000 eligible Israelis have yet to receive either dose.

About 2.6 million Israelis have received both doses — or some 43% of the eligible population.

An Israeli woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine injection, at a vaccination center in Jerusalem, on February 10, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Around 3 million Israelis are not eligible to be vaccinated, including those younger than 16 and people who have recovered from COVID-19, among other reasons.

Amid the largely successful vaccination campaign, and a decrease in morbidity rates, particularly among high risk groups, nationwide restrictions remain in place to curb further virus spread.

Cabinet ministers on Monday approved the reopening of stores, gyms, hotels, and other venues from Sunday, in a major easing of sweeping lockdown measures meant to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Street-front shops, malls, markets, museums, and libraries will be open to all Israelis. But only those who have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 will be able to use gyms, enter sporting and culture events, hotels, and swimming pools. They will have to bring proof in a so-called “green card” scheme.

In a further easing of restrictions, the Health Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office said Tuesday that the government will allow outdoor gatherings of up to 20 people, and indoor gatherings of up to 10, starting Friday morning. The previous rules restricted outdoor gatherings to 10 people and indoors to five.

The government had previously decided to allow synagogues and other houses of worship to reopen on Friday ahead of the Purim holiday, with attendance limited to 10 people indoors and 20 outside.

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