Vaccination campaign for 40-49 age bracket could start as soon as Friday or Sunday
A panel of health experts advising the Israeli government on Thursday voted to recommend lowering the age of the third vaccine dose against COVID-19 to people in their 40s a week after lowering the minimum age eligibility for the booster shot from 60 to 50.
Health Minister Director-General Nachman Ash is expected to approve the recommendation, with the vaccination campaign for the 40 to 49 age bracket reportedly starting as early as Friday or Sunday.
Israel's 49-year-old Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said previously that he will be the first in line when the third vaccine jab becomes available to his age cohort. Shortly after the panel's recommendation, Bennett confirmed that on Friday he will receive the booster shot.
"Tomorrow morning I will be vaccinated with the third vaccine. It is time to step up efforts to overcome the delta wave and prevent closure. It is within reach — get vaccinated," Bennett said in a statement from the Prime Minister's Office.
Israel is struggling to contain an outbreak that started in late June of the highly contagious delta variant that has resulted in an uptick in daily cases.
The detection of 10 new cases of the delta plus variant AY.3 in Israel has caused renewed concern at the Health Ministry because the strain that is prevalent in the United States is potentially better at escaping the immune system.
The booster shot in Israel has also been made available to immunocompromised individuals, health workers, inmates and prison staff.
The United States recently announced a plan to start administering booster shots to all Americans in late September pending regulatory approval.