Israel to offer Pfizer vaccine booster to those over 60

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By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM, Jul 29 (Reuters) – Israel will begin offering a third injection of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech to those over 60, a move that is being taken for the first time in the world and that seeks to curb the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, launching the campaign, said President Isaac Herzog would be the first to receive the booster on Friday.

Israel was the world leader in vaccination and many elderly received doses in December, January and February, as they were considered the most vulnerable sector of the population.

But since the appearance of the Delta variant, the Ministry of Health has twice reported a decrease in the effectiveness of the vaccine against infection and a slight decrease in its protection against severe disease.

The booster campaign will turn Israel into a testing ground for a third dose, before final evaluation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“The findings show that there is a decrease in the body’s immunity over time. The goal of the supplemental dose is to boost it and thus significantly reduce the chances of infection and serious illness,” Bennett told a news conference.

“I appeal to all the elderly who received the second dose, to go and receive the supplementary one,” he said.

Pfizer said Wednesday that it believes people need the extra dose to maintain protection against the coronavirus. The company has said it could apply for emergency authorization in the United States for the booster vaccines in August.

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