Nitzan Horowitz
Nitzan HorowitzAvshalom Sassoni/Flash90

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) on Monday morning spoke at a joint meeting of the Knesset's Health Committee and the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, warning of the fast pace at which the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading.

"This variant is gaining amazing speed, and within a few days it has spread enormously, as we did not see with the previous variants," he said.

"We are seeing an insufficient rise in vaccinations. People ask me, 'Is the public at fault?' The public is not at fault, but we need to say something very clearly here: The State of Israel has made the vaccines accessible to everyone, for free. At the end of the day, the responsibility to vaccinate children rests first of all on the parents. If a parent chooses not to vaccinate his children - the responsibility is his."

"If you want to protect your child from disease, you need to protect yourself. If you don't want serious illness, if you don't want long COVID, you need to get vaccinated. The State cannot replace the responsibility each parent has towards his children."

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of Israel's Public Health Services, spoke during a discussion focused on Israel's preparation for managing Omicron, saying, "There is no doubt that the vaccinated have a lower chance of infection. With Omicron as well it's less harsh and their chance of infecting others, from what we've seen until now with all variants, is lower. We know this about all the variants we've seen until now, and there's no reason that with Omicron specifically it should be the opposite."

"From data we've seen from around the world, the antibodies of those recovered [from COVID-19] are not good enough to offer protection from this variant, and it is very worthwhile to get vaccinated. The vaccines do not have ongoing side effects for years, that doesn't exist. There is no biological logic in saying that specifically here there will be long-term consequences. We know from seven million children who received the vaccine in the US and from the 100,000 children in Israel who did not report significant side effects."