Edelstein: ‘Unbelievable’ 280,000 Israelis vaccinated against COVID-19

A COVID-19 vaccination is administered at a Maccabi Healthcare Services vaccination center in Modi'in, on Dec. 24, 2020. Photo by Yossi Aloni / Flash90.

Those under 60 with chronic health conditions will be eligible for
the vaccine this week. Also, Health Ministry director general looks to
start vaccinations for teachers.

Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Sunday that 280,000 Israelis had so far been inoculated against COVID-19.

“We’re ending the first week of vaccinations on the unbelievable figure of 280,000 vaccinated, 71,000 of them over the weekend. We’re continuing to vaccinate for your
sake, we’re continuing to protect Israel,” said the health minister in a statement.

Israel’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign will expand this week to include those under 60 who suffer from chronic health conditions. They are at higher risk of complications from the virus, the Health Ministry said on Saturday.

Ministry officials also said that by the end of December, this Thursday, vaccinations would be available to younger age groups, pending the arrival of more shipments of vaccine.

Also on Sunday, healthcare providers were to begin administering vaccinations at retirement homes and other living facilities for the elderly run by welfare agencies.

Edelstein has instructed Health Ministry Director General Hezi Levy to explore the possibility of vaccinating teachers beginning the first week in January. Both Education Minister Yoav Gallant and teachers’ union leader Yaffa Ben-David want teachers to receive vaccines as soon as possible.

Authorities hope that once teachers receive the vaccine, it will be possible to send children back to school. This, in turn, will then make it easier for parents to go back to work.

The ministry plans to have 150 vaccination stations up and running by Sunday, with an additional 80 open by Tuesday.

The nation’s largest healthcare provider, Clalit, continued to vaccinate eligible Israelis over the weekend. It plans to begin administering vaccinations around the clock this week at its main vaccination centers in Tel Aviv, Herzliya and Haifa. Other HMOS, too, will extend their vaccination hours.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Thursday that Israel was on track to become “the world champion of vaccines.”

“The combination of the great vaccines operation on the one hand, and a short, quick lockdown on the other, will enable us to emerge from the coronavirus. And we will be apparently the first country to emerge from the coronavirus within a few weeks. This is a great blessing,” he said.

(JNS – This article first appeared in Israel Hayom).

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