Data provided by the Maccabi Health Fund in Israel shows that the fourth Covid vaccination dose has been effective in reducing both infection and serious illness during the massive Omicron wave, which has struck the country over the past two months.
Israel began administering fourth doses of the Pfizer Covid vaccine in early January, becoming the first country worldwide to do so. Since then nearly 700,000 Israelis aged 60 and over have received the fourth jab, more than 50% of the 1.33 million Israelis in that age category.
Initial data in January from the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer suggested that the fourth dose made little difference in protecting against Omicron, and even though the jabs are now available for many population groups, diminishing numbers of Israelis are opting for the fourth jab.
However, Maccabi Health Services virus task force head Dr. Arnon Shahar said, "We see that when the fourth vaccine dose is freshly administered, up to six weeks, it reduces infection by 50% and the risk of serious illness is five times less."
Israeli Ministry of Health figures show that 7% of those hospitalized in serious and critical condition with Covid had four Covid vaccinations compared with 28% who have had three jabs, with the third vaccination not administered recently, while 45% have not been vaccinated at all.
Dr. Yasmin Mor, Head of the Infectious Disease Unit at Wolfson Hospital in Holon said, "We hardly see anybody who has had the fourth vaccination dose. It's a shame that there has not been a higher take up rate."
She added, "The vaccination is very safe. After administering the fourth dose we do not see reports of side effects that we have not had in the past. There are short term side effects that cannot be compared with the consequences of being infected by Covid, even the Omicron variant."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 14, 2022.
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