Israel’s coronavirus vaccination program is underway, with hundreds of thousands of citizens already having received their first dose of the two vaccine shots required. The government has repeatedly insisted that vaccination will not be made compulsory; however, its plans for issuing a “green passport” for those deemed to have immunity to the virus constitute at the very least a positive incentive for getting the shot.
The Health Ministry has already commenced discussions on the precise benefits to be accorded to those carrying a green passport, which will likely be issued to people following the second vaccine dose. According to a Channel 12 news report, holders of green passports will be exempt from the obligation to enter quarantine following a visit to a foreign country with a high rate of coronavirus infection. Currently, those returning from “red countries” are obligated to remain in home quarantine for 14 days following their return, or 10 days if they twice test negative for the virus. A green passport will also exempt its holder from having to self-isolate after being in prolonged contact with someone confirmed as a coronavirus carrier.
Previous reports have also suggested that a green passport will be required in the future in order to enter shopping malls, cultural venues, and other public spaces; the Health Ministry has yet to confirm such definite intentions.
Green passports will likely take the form of an application on one’s cell phone, in order to guard against forgeries. As such, the Health Ministry has been asked to devise a special solution for the haredi community, the vast majority of whose members do not use smartphone devices.
At present, the only vaccine being distributed in Israel is that developed by the German pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which has yet to release data proving that its vaccine significantly reduces transmission of the virus. Rather, the vaccine is being promoted on the basis that it prevents the recipient from developing symptoms of the disease; so far, it is merely theorized that asymptomatic carriers are less contagious than those showing symptoms.