With an expiration date looming for Israel’s current batch of Pfizer coronavirus vaccines, Saturday was the last day for teens who have not done so to get their first dose.
Israel’s existing stock of Pfizer vaccines will expire at the end of July. Thus, children aged 12-15 who do not get their first dose by Saturday will not be able to get their second dose three weeks later, and will be forced to wait until the next Pfizer batch arrives, likely in September.
Meanwhile, people over the age of 16 will be able to continue to be vaccinated with Moderna’s vaccine. However, this vaccine has not yet been approved for use for the under-16 age group.
According to Walla news, some 29 percent of the 12-15 age group have been vaccinated, along with some 11% who have contracted COVID-19 and recovered. This brings the immunity rate to some 40% — below the 50% the Health Ministry had hoped for.
Earlier this week a plane carrying some 700,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine took off for South Korea, as part of a deal that will see Seoul send fresh vaccines in exchange later in the year.
Those doses are also set to expire by month’s end, and Korean officials have quickly moved to dispatch them to distribution centers.
Israel had been scrambling to use up or trade away over 1 million doses of the vaccine that expire at the end of July.
The deal came weeks after the Palestinian Authority backed out of a similar agreement, saying the vaccine doses were too close to their expiration date, despite Israel using the same batches to vaccinate its teens.
Vaccination has taken on renewed urgency around the world amid the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, first identified in India.
In Israel Friday evening, active cases stood at 3,793 and the death toll since the start of the pandemic held at 6,434. The number of seriously ill patients, currently seen as the main factor by decision-makers, has been slowly rising and was at 40 Friday.
The resurgence of the virus due to the Delta variant has become a major issue for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s new government, coming less than two months after cases dwindled as a result of mass vaccination, allowing Israel to lift most restrictions and reopen public life.
The variant is thought to be more capable of infecting even vaccinated individuals, though in most cases it causes only mild illness for the inoculated.