A health worker prepares a vaccination at a mobile vaccination centre in Tel Aviv, Israel, July 6 2021. Picture: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD
A health worker prepares a vaccination at a mobile vaccination centre in Tel Aviv, Israel, July 6 2021. Picture: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD

Israeli health providers began offering a third dose of Covid-19 messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine to patients with weakened immune systems as a booster shot, after approval by health officials on Monday.

“Due to the increase in morbidity and the spread of the virus in recent weeks, and the high risk for immunosuppressed patients to become seriously ill, these patients can be given a third dose,” the ministry said in a letter to health providers.

Eligible patients include those who have undergone heart, lung, kidney or liver transplants and cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.

Israel has been experiencing a new surge in cases. About 57% of Israelis are fully vaccinated, almost all with the Pfizer-BioNTech  vaccine.

Pfizer announced on July 9 that it plans to request US emergency authorisation in August for a third booster dose for the general population, based on early data showing it can sharply increase immune protection. US health officials signalled they would take a cautious approach to potential booster shots.

Reports said on Sunday President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci acknowledged that “it is entirely conceivable, maybe likely” that booster shots will be needed.

Fauci said clinical studies and laboratory data have yet to fully bear out the need for a booster to the current two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson regimen.

“Right now, given the data and the information we have, we do not need to give people a third shot,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we stop there.... There are studies being done now, ongoing as we speak, about looking at the feasibility about if and when we should be boosting people.”

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

subscribe

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments?
Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.