The Ministry of Health on Tuesday recommended giving a booster of the COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 5 to 11 as the daily number of cases of coronavirus infections continued to rise, raising fears that the country may not enters a sixth wave of the virus.
Officials have asked health management organizations to prepare to make vaccines available to children in this age group.
The third dose can also be given to children who recovered from the coronavirus more than three months ago.
Israel began vaccinating children aged 5 to 11 in November last year, but Health Ministry figures released on Tuesday showed that so far 76.5% of children in this age group age have not been vaccinated.
The data also showed that in the past month, 1,261 unvaccinated children aged 5 to 11 who had recovered from the virus had caught it again, along with 295 who had received at least one dose of the vaccine. .
Separately on Tuesday, Israel’s coronavirus czar Salman Zarka told reporters during a briefing that while COVID-19 cases appear to be rising, COVID testing at the airport is unlikely to return any time soon.
“We see no reason to check people at border crossings,” Zarka said. “We will test people at Ben Gurion Airport if there are concerns about new variants around the world.”
Zarka added that there are currently no plans from health officials to bring back COVID restrictions. The requirement to be tested on landing at Ben Gurion Airport was lifted on May 21.
On Monday, 7,330 new cases of the virus were diagnosed, the highest number since April 6, according to official ministry figures.
The virus’s reproduction number, R, was given at 1.51, the same as the day before. The figure, which represents the situation 10 days earlier, measures the number of people each coronavirus carrier infects on average, with any number above 1 meaning the spread of COVID-19 is increasing. It began to rise above 1 in mid-May, after remaining below that threshold for nearly two months.
Of the 30,090 active patients, 103 are in serious condition.
Israel has made vaccination a key strategy to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and so far, of its 9.5 million population, 6,710,522 have received at least one dose, of which 6,142,332 have received it two and 4,496,066 received three. There are also 816,370 who had a fourth hit.
On Monday, the Department of Health recommended that people resume using face masks in enclosed spaces.
In a statement, the ministry noted the “sharp” increase in the number of infections in recent days, “accompanied by an increase in the number of serious cases”.
There was no indication that the ministry would seek to enforce the recommendation, but it could indicate that government restrictions would return, if infection figures continue to rise.
“This is not a requirement, but an act of solidarity and attention to your neighbour,” the statement read.
Israel scrapped its indoor mask requirement in April as infection numbers fell sharply. Outdoor masks have not been compulsory since April last year.