Israeli experts recommend fourth COVID-19 shot

An Israeli Government panel of experts on Tuesday recommended expanding eligibility for an extra COVID-19 vaccine booster to everyone aged 18 and up.

The recommendation for a fourth dose applies to any adult so long as at least five months have passed, either since receiving an initial booster shot or recovery from the disease.

“The decision is made in light of positive results showing three to five times greater protection against severe disease after the fourth dose of vaccination,’’ the expert body said in a statement.

It said protection against infection was two times higher in those vaccinated four times than in those vaccinated three times.

The panel’s recommendation still has to be approved by Nachman Ash, the director-general of the Health Ministry, before Israel’s booster campaign was expanded.

Israel has already rolled out fourth vaccine doses to people aged 69 and older and other at-risk groups.

So far, more than 600,000 people have been given four shots in the country.

There was no broad agreement in Israel about the need for an extra booster shot.

Just last week, the lead researcher on a study looking into the effectiveness of a fourth jab expressed scepticism about the benefits.

Gili Regev-Yochay, director of the infectious disease unit at Tel Aviv’s Sheba Medical Centre, said the initial results of her study showed a fourth shot did not provide much additional protection.

Israel is now believed to be at the peak of its Omicron wave.

More than 580,000 of the country’s nine million residents were currently infected with the virus.

On Tuesday, the Health Ministry announced that more than 83,000 additional cases had been registered within 24 hours.

Only 63 per cent of Israelis were still considered fully vaccinated, which means twice-vaccinated people up to six months after their second vaccination and people with booster vaccinations.

About 29 per cent of the population have not been vaccinated at all, and for 8 per cent the validity of their vaccination has expired. (dpa/NAN)

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