JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli health official on Monday urged more 12- to 15-year-olds to be vaccinated against COVID-19, citing new outbreaks that he attributed to the more infectious Delta variant.
Israel expanded vaccine eligibility to include adolescents last month. Infections have fallen off sharply in recent weeks. Vaccination turnout has largely flatlined at around 55% of the 9.3 million overall population having received both shots, implying that adults have largely stopped getting vaccinated.
But COVID-19 recurrences were logged at two schools last week, contributing to a rise in the daily test positivity rate from a rolling one-month average of 0.1% to 0.3% on Saturday and 0.6% on Monday, Health Ministry data showed.
The ministry will probably issue a recommendation that 12- to 15-year-olds get vaccinated, having previously left the matter up to the parents’ preference, said Nachman Ash, the national pandemic response coordinator.
“I think that would certainly be correct at this stage, when we see an outbreak of the Delta variant in the country,” he told Tel Aviv radio station 103 FM.
“We should not wait for higher numbers. We have seen there were quite a few children infected over the last week.”
Separately, Israeli officials said they were considering the imposition of fines for parents whose unvaccinated children do not self-isolate upon coming into the country from abroad, as required.
Israel has been a world leader with its vaccine rollout and has been sharing data it collected with Pfizer, which provided the vaccines.
(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Mark Heinrich)