Israel forging ahead of the world in vaccination rate, as Netanyahu campaigns

Israel has set a breakneck record in administering the COVID-19 vaccine, inoculating some 1.5 million of its 9 million citizens in just over two weeks. 

That is about 15 percent of the population and not even considering that some 4 million school children are not eligible for the vaccine which has only been tested for people 16 years old and over. 

While appointments with one’s health maintenance organization in Israel can many ties take weeks to get, months for surgeries and then hours in a waiting room, Israel has displayed a frenzied efficiency with the vaccinations that has become the envy of the world.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who became the first Israeli to get his shot in a nationally televised display, is personally driving the campaign. His vaccine campaign coincides with his own reelection campaign as the country counts down to elections in March. Netanyahu visits vaccination distribution centers on a daily basis and appeared with milestone shot recipients such as the 500,000th and the millionth. 

In November, Netanyahu already secured separate deals with two vaccine companies to bring millions of doses into the Jewish state. This comes as Israel is lingering between a second lockdown that never fully ended and entering a third draconian lockdown.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Israelis accounted for 10 percent of all those in the world who had been inoculated. 

“By the end of March, the beginning of April, most people who want to get vaccinated will be able to get vaccinated and then we will be able have a broad opening of the economy and culture,” he predicted.

While Netanyahu forges ahead with a successful vaccination effort, the country is pushing forward the “green passport” to be given to people who get the shot. This digital ID will allow shot recipients to enter public arenas, including malls, theaters, restaurants and gyms, while prohibiting those who do not have one.

The passport will also enable people to fly and not enter quarantine upon return to Israel. Those without the passport will have to have proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours in order to enter these areas.

photo credit: GPO/Mark Neyman