Israel has become the world’s first country to approve a fourth COVID shot for healthcare workers and the over 60’s.
The Middle Eastern nation won plaudits across the world for the speed of its vaccine rollout earlier this year. However, as a result of its initial success, many Israelis have waning immunity and the overall infection rate from COVID-19 has crept back up again.
On Tuesday, Israel's Pandemic Expert Committee recommended citizens be given a fourth dose - a decision that must receive final approval from the country’s Department of Health.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the news would help the country deal with the impact of Omicron:
“This is wonderful news that will assist us in getting through the Omicron wave that is engulfing the world," Mr Bennett said.
“The citizens of Israel were the first in the world to receive the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and we are continuing to pioneer with the fourth dose as well.”
Dr Asher Salmon, Head of the Department of International Relations at the Israeli Ministry of Health, told Newstalk that a fourth dose has proven to be safe:
“It seems extremely safe. We did one local study of our own [of] 2,000 individuals and it seems extremely safe.
“From a practical point of view, it doesn’t seem likely that it will be possible to vaccinate the whole population every six months. That’s too much.
“Hopefully, we will reach a point where we can give a vaccine once a year and that maybe enough.”
However, on an optimistic note Dr Salmon concluded:
“The nice part of this whole business is that usually pandemics end. It may take another year or so but at some point it may become one of these flu-like viruses that comes to visit us every winter.”
Main image: A medical worker prepares to give an injection of COVID-19 vaccine at a medical centre in Tel Aviv, Israel. Picture by: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images.