Israel to offer fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine to people over 60

JERUSALEM, Dec.21 (Reuters) – Israel on Tuesday announced it would offer a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to people over 60, amid concern over the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

A group of health ministry experts recommended the fourth move, a move that was quickly hailed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as “great news that will help us weather the Omicron wave sweeping the world.”

Although the decision is pending formal approval from senior health officials, Bennett urged the Israelis to receive the dose as soon as possible, saying, “My message is: don’t waste time, go get the shot. . The decision follows the first known death in Israel of a patient with the Omicron variant. An Israeli hospital confirmed the death on Tuesday, but said he was suffering from a number of serious pre-existing conditions.

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Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba said the man, in his 60s, died on Monday, two weeks after being admitted to the coronavirus ward.

An elderly woman is reminded of her coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination at an assisted living facility in Netanya, Israel on January 19, 2021. REUTERS / Ronen Zvulun

A statement from the hospital said the patient was suffering from various serious illnesses. “His morbidity was mainly from pre-existing illnesses and not from a respiratory infection resulting from the coronavirus,” he said.

On Tuesday, the health ministry said there were at least 340 known cases of Omicron in Israel.

Israel has already extended a travel ban this week to countries like the United States, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Canada in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

Bennett’s office said it also approved the 50% reduction in office attendance for public sector employees to encourage more remote working.

And Defense Minister Benny Gantz has ordered the Army’s Homefront Command to prepare for the possibility of 5,000 new cases a day, his office said.

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Reporting by Stephen Farrell; edited by Grant McCool

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