Israel’s Health Ministry has approved a fourth dose of the Pfizer – BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for certain high-risk individuals, Health Ministry director-general Nachman Ash and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced Thursday.
In a press conference Thursday, Ash said that while a study being carried out at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan has yet to be completed, the Health Ministry has decided to move forward with the fourth dose for Israelis with impaired immune systems.
The decision makes Israel the first country in the world to offer a second booster of the Pfizer – BioNTech jab.
Ash noted that the preliminary results of the Sheba study on the fourth dose would not be ready for at least two weeks, saying that the Ministry is “acting cautiously”.
"In light of the gaps in knowledge in the world in the present situation, we are acting cautiously and responsibly," Ash said.
Following the completion of the Sheba study and the campaign to double-boost people with impaired immune systems, the Health Ministry will weigh expanding the program offering a fourth dose to additional groups, based on risk factor for the coronavirus.
Ash, who was joined at the conference by Health Ministry public health chief Sharon Alroy-Preis and COVID czar Salman Zarka, also announced the partial reimposition of the outdoor mask mandate.
Under the new rules, masks will be required at outdoor gatherings of more than fifty people.
Bennett declared Thursday evening that Israel "will lead the way in administering a fourth vaccine to the Israeli people."
"Israel’s strategy for overcoming Omicron is clear: The greater the wave, the greater the protection we will need to overcome it.”