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Israel starts vaccinating children aged 5-11 years to combat COVID surge

Daily cases have also crept up over the past few days, with half the confirmed infections presently among children aged 11 and younger.
 

Israel starts vaccinating children aged 5-11 years to combat COVID surge-dnm
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Jerusalem, First Published Nov 23, 2021, 1:27 PM IST
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Jerusalem: Israel began vaccinating children aged 5-11 years on Monday, becoming one of a handful of countries to inoculate children so young as it seeks to ward off another pandemic wave. A fourth wave of infections that hit Israel in June began subsiding in September. But over the past two weeks the "R", or reproduction rate of the virus, that had remained below one for two months began climbing and has now crossed that threshold, indicating the virus could again be spreading exponentially, Reuters reported.

Though the official launch of the vaccine campaign began on Tuesday, health providers started rolling out the shots for children at a number of locations across the country, days after the first shipment of kid-sized Pfizer-BioNTech doses arrived in Israel.

Authorities had already begun immunising those aged 12 to 17 but decided to lower the age threshold in the wake of trials by Pfizer and recommendations from a panel of Israeli scientists. Health officials said several hundred children were vaccinated Monday and that appointments for vaccinations starting on Tuesday had been booked for 24,000 children — some 2.5% of those eligible in the age group, as per a report on Times of Israel.

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Over the summer, fuelled by the Delta variant, the Jewish state experienced an upsurge in coronavirus infections and launched one of the earliest campaigns for booster shots. As infections start to creep up again, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said the country is experiencing a “children's wave” with about half of the recently confirmed cases among children below the age of 11, he wrote on Facebook.

Daily cases have also crept up over the past few days, with half the confirmed infections presently among children aged 11 and younger.

Israel’s 9.4 million population is relatively young, with around 1.2 million children in the 5-to-11 age group. By November, that group comprised more than a third of new cases, according to health ministry data. Scientists and officials have been doubtful the country can reach “herd immunity” unless children are vaccinated.

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