Following approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in children ages 5-11 and the Israeli Health Ministry's subsequent approval and rollout, a leading Lithuanian-haredi rabbi has called on parents to vaccinate their children against coronavirus.
The announcement follows Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky's meeting with three senior Israeli doctors who are continuously working to manage the coronavirus pandemic in Israel.
The meeting, held in Rabbi Kanievsky's home, was attended by Professor Ran Balicer, who heads the Israel Shield staff of experts and the Clalit Research Institute; coronavirus czar Professor Salman Zarka; and Rabbi Kanievsky's personal doctor, Dr. Meshulam Hart.
These doctors requested Rabbi Kanievsky's opinion on what the Torah demands with regards to vaccinating young children against coronavirus, and wished to receive the rabbi's blessing for the vaccine rollout for these ages, and discuss the best way to encourage vaccination in haredi schools.
Prof. Zarka presented to Rabbi Kanievsky the FDA and Health Ministry's approvals, as well as those of senior doctors, regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccine for children ages 5 and up. Later, Prof. Zarka said that there is a rise in the number of coronavirus infections, and that the data shows that most of the infections are among children who until now had not yet been able to be vaccinated.
Prof. Balicer expanded on this issue, presenting data from the millions of children who have already been vaccinated in the US, and from up-to-date studies being conducted in Israel and around the world on the issue of vaccinating children. He summarized the advantage and health benefits for children who are vaccinated against coronavirus, saying that they are tens of times greater than the risks and side effects after the vaccine.
Dr. Hart explained the importance of vaccinating children, as well as the health issues and complications experienced by children who contracted COVID-19.
Rabbi Kanievsky listened to the doctors' words, and after he questioned, investigated, and ensured that the data and the results of the studies on the balance between the vaccine's safety and efficacy and the risks of COVID-19 had been received, he arrived at the conclusion that children ages 5 and over should be vaccinated.
Rabbi Kanievsky blessed the children receiving the vaccine with good health, and the healthcare workers with success.
In the past, Rabbi Kanievsky ordered that schools close to help stem the pandemic, and said that unvaccinated teachers should not come to school. He also instructed that those at risk receive the booster dose.