COVID vaccination surges among young teens as cases rise

Written by on June 21, 2021

The Health Ministry is recommending that all youth between the ages of 12 and 15 get inoculated and has asked the health funds to prepare for the vaccination campaign.

The previous policy was that these teens and preteens had “permission” to get the jab.

The Advisory Committee for Corona Vaccines, led by Dr. Boaz Lev, met Sunday night to discuss the recent outbreaks, as well as data presented by the US Centers for Disease Control that shows the side effects of getting the vaccine may be even less than originally thought.

After a long discussion, the committee decided to recommend to the Health Ministry to strengthen its stance on teen vaccination, according to professionals who attended the meeting.

In the US, around seven million teens and preteens have received at least one dose of the vaccine so far. Only around one in 50,000 people ages 16 to 39 have been found to develop heart inflammation, according to Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of an FDA vaccine advisory committee. He was quoted recently by NPR.

Israeli health officials had said they found a possible link between the Pfizer vaccine and heart inflammation in young people between the ages of 16 and 19 – mostly males and mostly after the second dose.

“Data from the US, Canada and Israel shows that the vaccine is both very efficient and safe,” said Prof. Nadav Davidovitch, director of Ben-Gurion University’s School of Public Health. “Also, the chance of developing long-term effects from COVID, even among children, is much higher than from the vaccine.”

There are about 600,000 youth between 12 and 15 years of age in Israel. The Health Ministry had originally said that while any of them who want to get vaccinated could do so, it was only recommending vaccination for people who were at risk for serious disease, lived with someone at risk or were planning to travel abroad.

Now, with the new Delta variant that is more contagious than the original strain or even its British predecessor, there is concern that infections could start to quickly spread among unvaccinated teens, Dr. David Dvir, head of the Primary Care Division at Meuhedet Health Fund and a member of the vaccination committee, told the Post.

He said studies show that the Pfizer vaccine is between 80% and 90% effective against the Indian variant, meaning that the more people who get the jab, the less people will contract COVID-19.

MEANWHILE, parents seemed to take matters into their own hands on Sunday and Monday, and the health funds saw a surge in teens signing up to get inoculated against COVID-19.

All of the health funds reported massive spikes in youth signing up to be inoculated over the last day or two, which Dvir said is linked to the reports of large outbreaks in a couple of schools.

Leumit said that it has thus far jabbed 1,250 young people between the ages of 12 and 15 and another 500 appointments are booked. On Sunday and Monday, the health fund reported, there were around 400 appointments booked in the last two days, versus only an average of 50 per day last week.

Meuhedet has vaccinated 3,913 youngsters and said that another 5,600 appointments are already booked. Clalit said it has jabbed 10,400 youth 12-15 and another 5,700 appointments are scheduled.

“There has been an increase in the demand for vaccines,” the health fund said in a statement.

Maccabi reported four times the number of appointments being scheduled over the last day – approximately 2,500 – than every day last week .

“Against the backdrop of increasing morbidity, Maccabi is preparing to expand its vaccination campaign in accordance with demand in various regions across the country,” said Dr. Miri Mizrahi Reuveni, director of Maccabi’s health division. “Along with vaccination, it is very important to maintain the isolation guidelines for anyone who is required to do so – otherwise we may experience many more outbreaks.”

Dvir told the Post that the health funds were ready and planned to send announcements to parents encouraging them to make appointments.

The Education Ministry said that there were now 164 students and 16 educational staff infected with the virus, an increase of 74 and four in just the last day. Furthermore, there are 3,517 students and 110 staff members in isolation, an increase of 702 kids and 16 staff members over the last day.

“Now things are different,” Israel Pediatric Association president Zachi Grossman – who was also present at the vaccine committee meeting – told the Post. “There were many school outbreaks and there is fear that if we don’t do anything active, the numbers will surge.”

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