Already in December, Israel launched its comprehensive vaccine campaign, which makes the country the best in the world when it comes to giving its citizens its corona vaccine. Nevertheless, the numbers of new infected and critically ill have been relatively high until now, in addition to the fact that vaccine resistance has been high in some groups.
– Now we are opening up society a bit, and the data for the last few days show a clear trend: That the mass vaccination means that our elderly and most vulnerable groups are now almost not infected, says David Mossinson, chief physician at Meuhedet.
Meuhedet chief Mossinson is responsible for the health services of 1.3 million Israelis. He points out that the newly confirmed corona infections in Israel are mainly under 60 years of age. Avisa Haaretz points out that only 319 of the nearly 5,000 new corona cases this week were over 60 years old.
– Now we have vaccinated 88 percent of the population over the age of 60, and if we include those who have had covid-19, it means that 90 percent of the oldest have either developed antibodies themselves, or have been vaccinated, Mossinson says.
He is clearly satisfied with the country’s vaccination campaign, and lists numbers and vaccination centers at full speed. Israel is a small country, in size, but has a large number of vaccination centers, in addition to a number of mobile vaccination stations.
– We go to small places with the mobile devices. We have already started vaccinating more than four million people, and the goal in the future is to vaccinate more than 140,000 people daily, he says.
In recent weeks, the health authorities have launched even more outreach activities, in the hope of vaccinating more people.
– As in the rest of the world, we have a number of citizens who are skeptical of vaccination. Here it has especially been the ultra-Orthodox Jews and part of the Arab population, says Mossinson.
To reach these groups, the health authorities have called everyone who can get the vaccine at least once. In addition, they have received a number of text messages and offered different times for vaccination.
They have also spent close to ten million Norwegian kroner in information campaigns against the most vaccine-critical groups in the country.
– When it comes to the ultra-Orthodox, there are some of them who do not have a smartphone. Then we called them extra. The Arab population has received a number of messages, and then in Arabic, says the chief doctor.
In recent weeks, they have also started handing out pizza, kosher food or sweets to those who have come to be vaccinated. This week, health professionals also showed up at a pub in the coastal city of Tel Aviv to offer people vaccines.
“We have used a lot of energy to persuade people, and have had a number of campaigns to combat the fake news about the vaccination,” says Mossinson.
– No borders
Dagbladet points out that Israel has been criticized for downgrading the vaccination of its Arab citizens, as well as withholding vaccines that go to the Palestinians, in order to pressure them politically.
– Covid-19 has no borders, and sees no difference between a Palestinian or an Israeli. Therefore, it is in our interest that everyone here should be vaccinated. We have used large resources to persuade parts of the Arab population to get vaccinated, says Mossinson.
Tal Rabina, director of the European Jewish Association and the Europe Israel Press Association is also in the conversation, and takes over:
– It is always easy to blame Israel, and has also been done during the pandemic. But it is worth remembering that the Palestinians at the beginning of the pandemic said that they did not want anything to do with Israel, but that they wanted help from the world. This is often more about politics than about pandemics, he says.
– Everyone over the age of 16 now gets
Chief Mossinson received his two vaccines in mid-December, almost two months ago.
– The Prime Minister, Minister of Health and medical staff were the first to receive vaccines here. This was to show everyone that the vaccines are not dangerous. Then the country’s oldest and vulnerable were taken, and last week we opened for all patients over the age of 16, says Mossinson.
He says that they also hope to be able to vaccinate children and young people, but that too little research has been done so far on what happens if this group is vaccinated.
– We expect to start vaccinating all our residents over the age of 16 before the month of March is over. Then it takes a couple of weeks until they have received both rounds of vaccination. Then we hope to start vaccinating the group from 12 to 16, he says.
Post covid everyday
The Israelis now hope they are entering a so-called post-corona everyday life.
– We are opening society slowly but surely up now, and hope that we are on our way to a so-called post-covid everyday life. But no one knows what that will mean, says Rabina.
– The number of new infections is still high, but they are declining. We will probably have to wait a couple of weeks to get the full effect of the vaccination, says Mossinson.
During the next week, three million Israelis will be fully vaccinated, according to Mossinson, who has the following advice for Norwegian politicians: Let everyone in Norway get vaccinated.
– People meet everywhere and the virus knows no boundaries. Therefore, everyone must get vaccines to quell the pandemic. That is why all people in Israel get vaccinated. Even those who are not legal in Israel, he says.
It is the Pfizer vaccine that is given in Israel. But what does this cost? asks Dagbladet.
– We do not know anything. There are secret agreements between the government and Pfizer, but everyone gets, Mossinson answers.
Own corona hospital hotel
The chief doctor says that the corona pandemic has led to a tremendous extra burden on the country’s health care. Nearly 700,000 Israelis have recovered from the coronavirus, while 5,521 people have died. This week, the country had just over 48,000 infected, of which 858 people are in critical condition, according to Worldometers.
– What Israel has succeeded in is that we have managed to keep the corona patients away from our hospitals. We have either treated them in their homes, or in special hotels, where we treated them, says Mossinson.
Only two percent of corona patients have been treated in Israeli hospitals.
– This is a big reason why we have avoided getting the same conditions as what we saw in Italy, Spain and in other hard-hit countries. We managed to keep the infection away from the hospitals, he says.
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