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Youths Lining Up for Vaccines in Saudi Arabia, Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's daughter, Michal, 14, gets her first coronavirus vaccination, alongside her mother, Gilat (L), at a clinic in Ra'anana, Israel, June 29, 2021. (Nimrod Glickman/Clalit Health Services)

Youths Lining Up for Vaccines in Saudi Arabia, Israel

Israel is in a race against time to get as many teens vaccinated as possible before the expiration of some 1.4 million vaccine doses at the end of July 

Teens are lining up in Saudi Arabia and Israel to get inoculated against the coronavirus.

Saudi Arabia announced Sunday that it would begin administering vaccine doses to teens ages 12 to 18 with the Pfizer vaccine, after the Saudi Food and Drug Authority approved it. On Tuesday, the Saudi Health Ministry reiterated that the vaccine was safe and effective and called for vaccinations to continue.

More than 17.6 million vaccine doses have been administered in the kingdom, with 70% of the adult population vaccinated, according to Arab News.

With the announcement that teens would be eligible for vaccinations in the kingdom, parents began registering their children to receive the shots via the country’s Tawakkalna app, the official application approved by the Saudi Health Ministry to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The app, which allows Saudis to show proof of vaccination in order to enter venues such as malls and mosques, also enables users to book a vaccine appointment after confirming their eligibility.

Israel, meanwhile, is in a race against time to get as many teens vaccinated as possible before the expiration of some 1.4 million vaccine doses at the end of July. The teens must have their first shot by July 9 in order to receive a second dose before the vaccines expire.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday during a visit to the Maccabi Health Care Services Vaccination facility in the central city of Holon called on teens to come and get vaccinated as soon as possible, including sending an oral message to the class Whatsapp group from a young person at the facility getting his vaccination.

“Yesterday we broke a record of several months – 18,000 Israelis were vaccinated,” Bennett said. “This marks a 500% increase within a few days, thanks to the great response of the youth and the public to the national call to get vaccinated.” He called for 30,000 people to get vaccinated a day until July 9, saying the goal is “ambitious, but possible.”

Later in the day Bennett’s daughter Michal, 14, was photographed getting her vaccine shot at a health clinic in Ra’anana.

Israel has seen a jump in new cases of the coronavirus in recent days, attributed to the delta variant. More than half of the new cases are teens.

“Young people need the vaccine because this new variant attacks unvaccinated children, and the previous variant was not of a magnitude similar to this. Then I tell parents who think that it is not necessary to vaccinate and everything will be fine – no. It is necessary to get vaccinated and if you do so you are simply protecting your children,” Bennett said.

Meanwhile, Dubai has started offering Pfizer vaccine shots to 12-to-15-year-olds, after the United Arab Emirates approved the shot for emergency use in that age category last month. Health services centers in Abu Dhabi also are vaccinating youths, with those ages 12 to 15 eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, and only the Sinopharm vaccine available to those over age 16.

Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers for the Middle East and North Africa as of 2 pm Greenwich Mean Time (UTC±0) on Thursday.

CountryConfirmed CasesDeathsRecoveredActive Cases
Palestinian Territories314,1673,563308,1862,418
Saudi Arabia487,5927,819467,63312,140
United Arab Emirates634,5821,819612,99819,765


Steven Ganot contributed to this report.

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