Vaccination of children aged 12-15 reportedly expected to start next week

Shots will initially be given out in schools in an effort to reach as many children as possible, though parents’ permission will be required, report says

Medical workers at a vaccination center, in Tel Aviv. March 8, 2021. (Miriam Alster/ Flash90)
Medical workers at a vaccination center, in Tel Aviv. March 8, 2021. (Miriam Alster/ Flash90)

Israel is expected to begin vaccinating children aged 12-15 against the coronavirus from the beginning of next week, with approval for the campaign expected in the coming days, Channel 12 reported Sunday.

Although there has been no official announcement for the start of the drive, the date of June 6 came up during a meeting between Health Ministry officials and suppliers who will be involved in distributing the shots, according to the station.

Vaccinations will initially be done at schools in order to reach as many children as possible, the report said, although parents will need to give their approval.

Later, shots will be provided by health management organizations, as has been the case for the vaccinations given to the above-16 population.

In the coming days, officials tasked with facing the coronavirus outbreak, along with a committee overseeing vaccinations, is expected to give approval for children in the target age group to get the shots.

Despite the reported date for the start of the vaccinations, a suggestion was raised at the meeting to wait until the outcome of a probe by US health officials into several dozen reports of mostly mild heart problems — a condition called myocarditis — after young people received vaccines.

Sources familiar with vaccination policymaking told The Times of Israel last week that as a precaution, Israel will likely only give children the first of the two usual shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine it is using, as the cases of myocarditis are believed to have occurred almost exclusively after young people received their second vaccine dose.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine safety group is investigating “relatively few” reports of the condition in vaccinated American young adults. The vaccines are believed to have come from Pfizer-BioNtech — the brand given to most Israelis — which is approved in the US for ages 12-plus, and Moderna, which is approved for those 18 and older.

In Israel, an April Health Ministry report into the side effects of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine raised concerns of a possible link between the second shot and several dozen cases of myocarditis.

The report said that 60 myocarditis patients were treated and released from the hospital in good condition. Two of the patients, who were reportedly healthy until receiving the vaccination, including a 22-year-old woman and a 35-year-old man, died.

Israel’s mass vaccination drive, which has already given both shots to over half the population, along with lockdown measures brought down infection rates from thousands a day at the beginning of the year to just 12 on Saturday, according to a Health Ministry report.

There are just 353 active patients, the lowest number in some 15 months, according to figures published Sunday.

Since the start of the virus outbreak in the country in early 2020 there have been 839,457 cases detected in Israel and 6,411 people have died of COVID-19.

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