Israel expects to start vaccinating children by March, says virus chief

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Nevin Al Sukari – Sana'a – People wait in their cars to get tested for the coronavirus disease, as the country continues its national vaccination drive against it, during a third national Covid-19 lockdown, in Tel Aviv, Israel January 11, 2021. — Reuters pic

JERUSALEM, Jan 12 — Israel may include children over the age of 12 in groups receiving Covid-19 vaccines within the next two months if research shows this is safe, a top health official said today.

Vaccinating at a world-record pace, Israel says it aims to have administered one or both shots to five million of its nine million citizens, and reopen the economy, by mid-March.

Elderly Israelis and adults with medical conditions or jobs in critical high-risk sectors have been given priority. But with Israeli officials anticipating more regular vaccine shipments, the eligibility categories have been expanded.

Nachman Ash, national coordinator on the pandemic, predicted that pharmacological research would establish that the minimum age threshold for the vaccines could be safely lowered from 16 to 12, and FDA approval for such use secured, by March.

“The fact that children under the age of 16 are not currently getting vaccinated is certainly troubling, in terms of the ability to achieve herd immunity,” he told 103 FM radio.

“I reckon that, in another month or two, there will be another cohort — the aged-12 and higher — that we can vaccinate.”

Around 7.75 per cent of Israel’s population are between the ages of 12 and 16, according to Central Bureau of Statistics data. — Reuters

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