2021-10-03 16:24:39 Israel Will Require a Booster Shot to be Fully Vaccinated

Israel Will Require a Booster Shot to be Fully Vaccinated

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel implemented new rules for determining coronavirus vaccination status on Sunday, requiring a booster shot for full inoculation and vaccination passports.

Israel is thought to be the first country to condition the validity of vaccination passports on having received a booster shot after pioneering booster shots for everyone 12 and older.

The country has announced that it will soon cancel the vaccination passports of over a million people, primarily those who are eligible for, but have not yet received, a third vaccination shot.

In Israel, people must meet one of the following criteria to be considered fully vaccinated: be 12 years old or older and have received a booster shot at least a week ago; be within six months of receiving a second vaccination shot; or be within six months of testing positive for Covid-19.

The booster shots are Pfizer vaccinations, which are by far the most widely used in Israel.

In Israel, entry to public spaces such as restaurants, hotels, clubs, cultural venues, and large private gatherings requires a Green Pass — a digital or paper vaccination certificate. Unvaccinated people can only enter with proof of a negative rapid test performed at an authorized test station that is valid for 24 hours or a negative PCR test that is valid for 72 hours.

The policy change came after Israeli health officials and experts discovered a significant waning of immunity in people five to six months after their second Pfizer dose, and after studies showed the effectiveness of the booster shot in preventing severe disease as Israel battled a fourth wave caused by the highly infectious Delta variant this summer.

There are indications that the fourth wave is being stifled. Over the last two weeks, the daily average of infections has dropped by about 54%, and the number of severe cases among hospitalized patients is decreasing.

“Now is the time to be strict about the Green Pass, to be cautious, and to avoid complacency,” Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said late Saturday. Mr. Bennett, an early supporter of the third dose, claimed that it saved lives and allowed the economy to continue operating.

Israel pioneered rapid vaccine rollout and, with a population of just over 9 million people, is one of the most vaccinated societies on the planet. More than 3.4 million people have received a third dose since the government made boosters available in August, beginning with older age groups and quickly expanding to younger ones. People who recovered from Covid-19 more than six months ago must now get at least one shot.

The demand for a third dose has increased in recent days as the expiration date for people’s vaccination passports approaches. The Health Ministry’s phone application crashed temporarily on Sunday due to a rush of people attempting to download a new Green Pass, so the ministry announced that expired Green Passes would remain valid for a few more days.

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Israel Will Require a Booster Shot to be Fully Vaccinated