Israel has become the first country to begin limited distribution of the fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine as cases surge across the globe.
The second booster after the initial two-shot regimen is available to the elderly and immuno-compromised, as well as those who work with them. The rollout began with organ transplant patients at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv Friday morning and is not currently available for the general population.
EXPERTS DUBIOUS OF FOURTH COVID-19 BOOSTER DOSES AS ISRAELI HOSPITAL LAUNCHES TEST
"In light of the existing gaps in knowledge in the world about the effectiveness of a fourth dose, in the present situation, we are acting cautiously and responsibly," said Nachman Ash, the top Health Ministry official. "If we see signs showing severe illness is expected to rise among the older populations, then we will make that decision. The challenge is to make it early enough to vaccinate them in time."
Israel issued new restrictions Thursday to combat the spread of the omicron variant during New Year's Eve celebrations, including needing a Green Pass to prove vaccination status or recent recovery from the virus to attend some large events.
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The country of 9.3 million has enforced large-scale vaccinations, with over 4.2 million people having received both a full dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and a booster. Another 2.3 million Israelis have received at least one vaccine dose.
U.S. top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that a second booster may be on the table in America as well, following widespread administration of the third shot.