Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash on Thursday told health management organizations to start giving a third COVID-19 vaccine shot to elderly Israelis from the beginning of next week.
Ash told the HMOs the shots should be given to those aged 60 and older.
His order came hours after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with top health officials to review an expert panel’s recommendations that older Israelis receive a third shot.
Israel is among the first in the world to offer a third dose of a coronavirus vaccine — Hungary has also said it would begin rolling out booster shots beginning Sunday, joining Turkey, which adopted the measure earlier this month. The American Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve third doses.
Israel’s decision came amid a struggle to contain a recent wave of coronavirus infections that has seen case numbers rocket from just dozens a day a month ago, to a daily caseload of over 2,000 this week.
“These recommendations, by the committee of experts, are substantial,” Bennett said after meeting with Ash and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
“Our strategy is clear: to safeguard life, and to safeguard daily routines in the State of Israel,” Bennett said in the statement, hours after the reintroduction of the Green Pass system granting access to large events only to those who are vaccinated, recovered or able to present a recent negative virus test.