School COVID-19 cases spur Israeli parents to vaccinate kids

School COVID-19 cases spur Israeli parents to vaccinate kids

A weak link in Israel’s world-beating COVID-19 vaccination rollout until now, adolescents have found themselves on the front line of the campaign with fears of the Delta variant prompting reluctant parents to get their children vaccinated, Reuters reports.

About three-quarters of Israelis in eligible age groups have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. But that includes just 2-4% of 12-15-year-olds since they were made eligible this month, according to Health Ministry data.

With infections falling from more than 10,000 daily cases in January to single digits, Israel has dropped nearly all social distancing. It hopes to admit vaccinated tourists as of July.

But after daily cases more than doubled to 125 on Monday after outbreaks at two schools attributed to the more infectious Delta variant, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced that border clampdowns could be extended as part of new precautions.

"Vaccinate your children," he urged in televised remarks, warning that currently allotted doses would expire on July 9.

Israel's two largest healthcare providers say appointments for 12-15-year-old vaccinations have doubled and tripled in the last few days.

"Now, after the COVID outbreaks, I said - today, today, I don't give a damn, today," said Yizhak Nevo, who took his 13-year-old daughter to get the jab in the town of Binyamina, where one school had a recent outbreak.

The Health Ministry on Monday recommended that 12-15-year-olds get vaccinated and is now investing in outreach to parents.