Israel set to offer Covid vaccine booster shots to those under 60

Israeli Health Ministry experts recommended dropping the minimum age for boosters from 60 to 50

Israeli Health Ministry experts on Thursday recommended dropping the minimum age for a Covid-19 vaccine booster from 60 to 50, hoping to curb a rise in Delta variant infections.

The advisory panel's move, which followed a call by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to expand Israel's booster campaign, still has to be approved by the Health Ministry's director.

But at least two major health providers have already said they would begin on Friday to schedule appointments for people aged between 50 and 59 to get a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine.

After a successful vaccination campaign launched in late 2020, in which about 60 per cent of the population have received two shots of the vaccine, new daily cases dropped from more than 10,000 in January to single digits in June.

But with the spread of the Delta variant across the globe, infections jumped in Israel, reaching 5,946 on Monday, and serious illnesses have also been increasing.

Israelis aged 60 and over began receiving the booster two weeks ago, effectively turning Israel into a testing ground before any third-dose approval by the US Food and Drug Administration.

More than 700,000 seniors in Israel have received their third shot.

"I commend the team of experts on treating pandemics for making the right decision for the health of the citizens of Israel," Mr Bennett said late on Thursday.

"I call on everyone over 50 to get in line tomorrow morning. Go get vaccinated."

An initial survey has shown that most people who received a third vaccine dose felt similar or fewer side-effects than they did after receiving the second shot.

Updated: August 12th 2021, 11:03 PM