Ministry health

The head of the Ministry of Health authorizes the 4th shot for the immunocompromised only

Department of Health Director General Nachman Ash said Thursday he has decided to approve the administration of a fourth dose of the COVID vaccine to immunocompromised people, amid the spread of the Omicron variant.

At a press conference, Ash said the decision was made “out of fear that they would be more vulnerable.”

Last week, a panel of health experts approved, but Ash chose not to approve the introduction of a fourth dose for Israelis over 60 and others at risk.

Ash said Thursday that the panel’s approval meant he could decide when he saw fit to allow the vaccination with the fourth shot.

At Thursday’s press conference, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said officials were bracing for higher rates of infection than ever amid the spread of Omicron, but vowed that a lockdown ” is not on the table “.

“We are prepared for a high number of infections and for all eventualities. The situation is under control. We have prepared and practiced in advance and the situation in Israel is much better compared to the world. We have saved precious time with quick and balanced actions, but that doesn’t mean we can be complacent, ”said Horowitz.

“We will continue to live alongside the coronavirus,” he added.

A health worker prepares a vaccine against COVID-19 at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, December 28, 2021. (Yossi Zeliger / Flash90)

In an apparent new rule aimed at curbing the spread of the virus, Ash said that masks must be worn at outdoor gatherings of more than 50 people. In April, Israel lifted the mandate for outdoor masks and only recommended that they continue to be worn at large gatherings.

Meanwhile, major retailers have threatened to strike if the government does not change other new regulations that restrict purchases, saying they are seriously damaging their income while failing to reduce infection rates.

“We warned that the morbidity would not decrease one iota and that is what happened”, noted Shahar Turgeman, head of the Association of Retail Chains.

“It’s a bogus Green Pass,” Turgeman said of the requirement to only allow people with the certificate in department stores, while all are allowed in most mall spaces.

He called on the government to reverse the rules that came into effect on Sunday by next Tuesday or to face a general strike.

People shop at a shopping mall in Jerusalem, December 16, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

The health ministry said Thursday evening that 4,053 cases had been confirmed a day earlier – nearly triple the number last Wednesday, when only 1,418 cases were confirmed.

In addition to the more than 4,000 new cases, 3,212 more diagnoses since midnight have pushed active infections to over 22,000 – more than double the figure recorded a week earlier.

Along with rising morbidity figures, severe cases hit 92 on Thursday evening. Of these patients, 45 were defined as critical. The majority of critically ill patients are not vaccinated.

Severe cases have yet to experience a similar increase and have largely leveled off in recent weeks. Experts expect that to change soon as the outbreak spreads more widely, despite the milder illness said to be caused by Omicron.

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