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With Infections on the Rise, Israel Begins Vaccinating Its Children
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett supports his son David, 9, as he is inoculated against the coronavirus at a Clalit Health Services clinic in Herzliya, Israel, Nov. 23, 2021. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

With Infections on the Rise, Israel Begins Vaccinating Its Children

Starting on Tuesday, children aged 5-11 are able to receive the COVID vaccine as the country’s vaccination drive takes a step forward

With a rise in the number of new COVID-19 cases and Hanukkah around the corner, on Monday, Israel began vaccinating children aged 5 to 11. The campaign follows the decision earlier this month by a committee of health professionals that voted overwhelmingly to inoculate young children with the vaccine specially created for children.

After a steady decrease since the height of Israel’s fourth wave, which raged during the summer, Israel is seeing what may be a change in the general trend. The R value, which indicates the average number of people someone with the virus will infect, has been constantly above 1 in the past two weeks and the number of new cases has slightly increased. Notably, children have been central to the spread of the virus in recent weeks. More than 50% of new cases diagnosed on Monday were children.

Israelis aged 12 and older have been able to receive not only the two initial shots of the vaccine but a booster shot, as well. More than 4 million Israelis have been vaccinated three times.

Hanukkah is another cause for concern for the Israeli government. The holiday, which brings families together, meaning that many children will likely be in contact with elderly relatives, will begin on Monday, November 29.

The Health Ministry and Israeli officials have done what they can to convince parents to vaccinate. The ministry said in a statement released on Monday that “the vaccination of children against coronavirus is recommended by the Israeli Pediatric Association and received the approval of the FDA, the CDC and the Israeli Health Ministry, having shown efficacy of 91% against symptomatic coronavirus in this age group and found to be effective and safe for them in clinical trials.”

“More than 3 million children have already been vaccinated in the United States, and now also in Israel we can protect them and spare them infection with coronavirus, a potentially serious disease for children, as well.”

“In light of increased infection rates among the younger age groups, the Health Ministry encourages people to consult their pediatricians, to make decisions based on facts and data, to schedule an appointment with their HMOs, to vaccinate and protect their children and to prevent the next infection wave.”

The vaccine is safe, effective, protects children from COVID-19 and its complications, which is most important, and it also stops the infection of adults and the general infection rate

Nitzan Horowitz, Israel’s health minister, tweeted on Tuesday that “the vaccine is safe, effective, protects children from COVID-19 and its complications, which is most important, and it also stops the infection of adults and the general infection rate.” The government has insisted that the vaccination of children is aimed at protecting the children themselves, and not solely intended to avoid the infection of older and more endangered population groups.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took his 9-year-old son David to be inoculated. Bennett said, “Today we are starting the nationwide campaign to vaccinate children, first of all to safeguard our children. David was just vaccinated. … This safeguards both children and parents, and the entire State of Israel. I call on all Israeli parents to come and have their children vaccinated. It is safe and it safeguards our children.”

 

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accompanies his son David, 9, as he is inoculated against the coronavirus at a Clalit Health Services clinic in Herzliya, Israel, Nov. 23, 2021. (IsraeliPM/YouTube)

Israeli parents, however, are not rushing to the vaccination centers. Appointments are readily available but only approximately 25,000 have been reserved. Israel has some 1 million children in the aforementioned age group. Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, the head of Public Health Services at the Health Ministry said that 40 to 50% of parents intended to vaccinate their children, Haaretz reported.

I am very hesitant. Especially after I myself experienced interruptions to my menstrual cycle after being vaccinated

Batel Hass, a mother of five, three of whom are newly eligible for vaccination, told The Media Line, “I am very hesitant. Especially after I myself experienced interruptions to my menstrual cycle after being vaccinated.” Hass’s daughter will be 9 next month and she is worried about the impact that the vaccine may have on her.

On the other hand, she says, the present demands arising from the fact that her daughter isn’t vaccinated are a burden. “If I want to go to the movies with her I need to push a cotton swab into her nose every time, or today, there’s a bat mitzvah – we had to get tested beforehand,” she said. Despite this, Hass says she is leaning toward deciding not to vaccinate her children. “The virus isn’t truly dangerous to children.”

I am for it. … It’s like any other vaccine to me

Lucy, who was walking with her son in Jerusalem’s center, felt differently. “I am for it but I have to convince him,” she told The Media Line, pointing to her son, who was reluctant to share his views on the matter. “It’s like any other vaccine to me,” she explained, adding that it benefits society in its entirety.

Ori, who was sitting in his fabric store in Jerusalem, seemed even more reluctant. “For the time being,” he told The Media Line, “we won’t vaccinate them. I don’t trust them.”

At present, Ori said that his family prefers to continue to manage with tests and quarantines, instead of vaccinating their young children. “We’ve learned to live with it,” he said.

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