Naftali Bennett’s 5 reasons for giving a third COVID-19 shot in Israel

2021-09-18 22:09:00

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett laid out five reasons why his government decided to approve COVID-19 booster shots for all Israelis over the age of 12 in an opinion piece that was published over the weekend in The Economist.
In the 1,400-word column, the prime minister attempted to justify Israel’s decision to go against a request by the World Health Organization to refrain from handing out boosters until more of the middle- and low-income world was vaccinated, and to do so ahead of any regulatory approval.

His column was published on the same day that a top advisory team to the US Food and Drug Administration ruled there was not enough evidence to give boosters to everyone, and rather approved only giving the shots to people over the age of 65 or those who are at highest risk for infection.

What were Bennett’s five reasons?

1) COVID-19 is a war

“Fighting a pandemic is like fighting a war, where the strategic decisions must not be made by the experts, the generals, but by the elected government, taking into account a broader picture,” Bennett wrote.

He said that the coronavirus pandemic impacts nearly all areas of people’s lives, from the economy to education, from supply chains to mental health and therefore needs to be looked at from a holistic perspective. And whereas public health experts “tend to be conservative and risk-averse,” COVID-19 requires “quick decisions” and “decisive action.

“Sometimes, not making risky decisions can be more damaging than taking a calculated risk,” the prime minister wrote.

2) The vaccines were not working anymore

In February, Israelis started to believe the country had beaten the pandemic. The economy opened up, weddings and cultural events resumed and people removed their masks. But only a couple of months later, cases began to rise – including among those who had been fully vaccinated.

According to Bennett, there were two reasons for this: First, the Delta variant was so virulent that it was capable of overcoming the vaccine’s defenses; second, the effect of the vaccine, which began being administered in Israel on December 20, 2020, had started to wane among people who received it more than five months prior.

Moreover, those who got vaccinated would likely be at increased risk.

“People with two doses can be at increased risk because they think and act as if they’re fully protected, even when that protection may be waning,” Bennett said.

President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett are seen kicking off Israel's third booster shot vaccinations at Sheba Medical Center, on July 30, 2021. (credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)

President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett are seen kicking off Israel’s third booster shot vaccinations at Sheba Medical Center, on July 30, 2021. (credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)

3) The vaccines are safe

Israel had a lot of information about the side-effects of the Pfizer vaccine, which at this stage has already been administered in some capacity to more than six million Israelis, according to Bennett.

“We knew the vaccines worked and their side-effects were minor,” said the prime minister.

A study of more than 9,000 Israelis published last week by Maccabi Healthcare Services found that 87% of people experienced at least one side-effect, most often pain at the injection site. However, none of the side-effects were life-threatening and they usually went away within one to three days.

Half the people said the side effects were worse for the third shot than the second, and half said they were the same or not as bad. The second-most reported side-effect (57%) was weakness and fatigue.

Previous studies of the first and second doses conducted in Israel and abroad also found minimal side-effects among the majority of recipients.

4) To avoid another lockdown

When cases began rising, the prime minister was being pressured by some health and political leaders to consider a fourth lockdown. Even as Israel inched closer to the High Holy Days, it seemed shutting down was still on the table.

But Bennett said he knew another lockdown would “further harm our economy and society,” he wrote in The Economist. So, instead, he decided to “double down on vaccines as the central strategy, together with less restrictive measures such as a face-mask mandate in closed spaces and the ‘Green Pass’ scheme that requires people to carry proof of being vaccinated or negative test results in order to participate in various activities.”

5) Not moving forward would erode public trust and feed the anti-vaxxers

“When twice-dosed people are infected and fall ill, it erodes the public’s trust in the vaccines and discourages others from getting vaccinated,” Bennett said.

He said that allowing the vaccines to wane is not only dangerous but provides “fodder for the anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists.”


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Source by [earlynews24.com]