Israel begins administering 4th vaccine dose amid omicron surge

JERUSALEM – Israel has started delivering a fourth dose of vaccine to people most susceptible to the coronavirus, making it one of the first countries to prepare for a wave of infections fueled by the omicron variant.

Israel, which led a world-leading immunization program in 2020, will give a fourth dose of the vaccine to people with compromised immune systems, as well as elderly residents and staff in nursing homes.

The introduction of the fourth dose began Friday morning at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center and was given to heart and lung transplant patients.

The country is currently experiencing a new wave of infections fueled by the transmittable Omikron variant. 4,085 new cases were registered on Thursday, the highest daily number of infections Israel has seen since late September.

In response, Israel put new restrictions in place late Thursday to contain soaring infection rates ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations. These include a Green Pass, which is given to fully vaccinated people or people who have recently recovered from the coronavirus for outdoor events with more than 100 people and a mask requirement for outdoor events with more than 50 people.

Israel, a country of 9.3 million people, has reported 8,243 deaths from the coronavirus since the pandemic began. Most of the population – more than 6.5 million people – have received at least one dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, and more than 4.2 million Israelis have received two doses and a booster.

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