COVID19 mini-update, January 14, 2020: Israel has vaccinated 80% of ages 70+

The Times of Israel reports on its liveblog that a kindergarten teacher in Ramle was 1st-dose recipient #2,000,000, in the presence of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Minister of Health Edelstein.

As we have a “young” population pyramid, this means great progress has been made in the most at-risk age brackets. This is best illustrated by this chart of vaccination rates by age bracket, screenshotted from the Ministry of Health’s website: note that of the highly vulnerable 70+ population, about 80% already got their first jabs. At present, first doses are available to ages 50 and over — the younger vaccinees represent people working in healthcare, law enforcement, and education; people with pre-existing conditions; and some who hung around vaccination centers to get “use it or lose it” leftover doses at the end of the session. Official guidelines are not to vaccinate anyone at ages 0-16, but clearly some have been.

Vaccination coverage by age brackets. Dark green: 1st Pfizer doses; light green: 2nd Pfizer doses

Again, let me be clear: this is without any vaccination mandate of any kind. If our public health officials had been as condescending, zig-zaggy, manipulative, and politically opportunistic as their US counterparts, you can be sure this graph would look quite different.

As more than 3 weeks have passed since the beginning of the campaign, now the first batch of patients are getting their second shots. Mrs. Arbel (who got her first jab 3 weeks ago as she is in a risk group) today got her second Pfizer injection: once again, it was administered by an army medic on reserve duty. Thus far, side effects are similar to what she experienced from the 1st jab: mild fatigue setting in after several hours, some swelling in the arm around the injection site. Stay tuned for updates.

She was told to still be cautious for about a week, giving the immune system a chance to get fully up to speed. The Phase III trial indicated a protection rate in the 95% range, but in a few weeks to a month, a firmer number will be established from the massive “Phase IV trial” that our vaccine drive amounts to.

Meanwhile, at the Technion, students and staff are being asked to screen themselves weekly using an antibody “spit test” developed in-house, in an effort to normalize life on campus through regular self-screening. (Aside from science and engineering, the Technion also includes a well-reputed medical school [including two Nobel laureates on the faculty] centered around the Rambam Hospital [*], one of our ‘Big Four’. So the necessary expertise is definitely there.)

Also, back in the USA, Dr. Mike Hansen had his own 2nd Pfizer shot and tells of his experiences on video.

[*] Rambam, the Hebrew acronym for Rabbi Moshe ben-Maimon, is how we call Maimonides in Hebrew

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