06:01 GMT09 May 2021
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    The Israeli Ministry of Health is still waiting for a relevant approval for Pfizer from the US Food and Drug Administration, expected to be received within weeks. When it gets the permit, Israel will first administer the jab to children with health problems, before introducing it to other youngsters.

    Last week, Pfizer announced its trial on children from 12 to 15 years old was 100 percent effective, prompting Israel to consider vaccinating its own young population as early as next month.

    Reports suggest the vaccine will not be mandatory, but will first be administered to children suffering from obesity and diabetes and only then to the rest of the population.

    Israeli experts say that such a move would help to restore the country's education system that has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic and would bring Israel one step closer to herd immunity.

    No Rush

    But Professor Cyrille Cohen, head of the Immunotherapy Laboratory at Bar Ilan University and a member of the Advisory Committee for Clinical Trials of Coronavirus Vaccines at the Ministry of Health, says his country will not make any hasty decisions before Pfizer gets all the relevant approvals from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    "Pfizer's clinical trial on 2,260 children was solid but it was a small study, compared to the one they conducted on adults that involved 44,000 people, so we will be waiting for the approval of the FDA, before administering it to Israeli kids".

    However, even when relevant papers are received and Israel offers the vaccine to the younger population, doubts run high as to whether there will be a demand for the inoculation.

    According to a recent study, out of 700 parents who were vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine in Israel, only 45 percent said they would consider administering the inoculation to their children. Twenty-five percent said they were still hesitant, and the remaining 30 confirmed they were against the idea.

    No Need to Fear

    This hesitation is not surprising. Studies suggest that younger children are not at risk. They don't tend to contract the disease and even if they do it is almost never severe.

    Others say that while the immediate effects of the vaccine are relatively known and are not dangerous for children, long-term impacts are yet to be explored. And this has become a fertile ground for the development of various conspiracy theories about the inoculation and the side effects it might cause.

    Fear of the vaccine is nothing new. Last December, when Israel had only started its mass inoculation drive, the country's social media was swamped with anti-vaccination messages and unsubstantiated theories about the damage the jab did to people's DNA and their fertility.

    Back then, Israel tried to combat these allegations. It launched a massive advocacy campaign that helped to shift many Israelis' perception about the jab. This time around, when relevant papers from the FDA are issued, the authorities will take that route again and Cohen reassures that there's nothing to worry about. 

    "I believe the vaccine is not dangerous. In the past, we successfully administered it to 700 children with lung diseases and cancer, so we have some experience in this sphere. Plus, it will bring us closer to herd immunity".

    So far, more than five out of Israel's nine million people have been fully vaccinated. The country is now believed to be only one step away from reaching herd immunity. And although Cohen is hesitant about giving such optimistic projections, he does admit that the situation in his country is stable and promising compared to other nations.

    "In recent weeks we have seen a slight rise in the amount of cases, so we need to be cautious but the vaccine protects us. We are in a good shape".

    Tags:
    Pfizer, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), FDA, parents, immunity, coronavirus, COVID-19, Children, vaccination, Israel
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