RNS: Israel started administering the third dose of the Pfizer vaccine to persons at higher risk. The Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said that effective immediately, adults with impaired immune systems who had received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine could get a booster shot, with a decision pending on wider distribution.
The health ministry said the goal of the new program was to raise antibody levels among immunocompromised citizens, including cancer patients, recipients of liver transplants, and others who have recently exhibited weakened vaccine protection.
“It had still not made a decision on administering third shots for the general adult population,” it said.
According to the media reports, the decision to offer some people third doses comes as Israel, which was among the fastest countries to vaccinate in the winter and then among the first to begin reopening in the spring, is experiencing a surge in new cases, spurred by the prevalence of the highly transmissible delta variant, first identified in India.
Notably, during the past months, infection rates in Israel have spiked from single digits to more than 400 a day.
Pfizer and partner BioNTech SE, the main suppliers in a swift Israeli vaccination rollout that began in December, said (on Thursday) they would ask U.S. and European regulators within weeks to authorize booster shots.
Meanwhile, the Pfizer officials met with top U.S. federal health officials to make their case for administering some Americans – particularly the elderly and the immunocompromised – a third dose six to 12 months after receiving the companies’ two-shot regimen, it reported.
The two companies cited an increased risk of infection after six months in seeking permission for a third shot.
The new guidelines issued by the Israel Health Ministry for administering a third shot of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to people with compromised immune systems, citing the rising infection rate in recent weeks as well as growing evidence that such people do not develop sufficient antibodies after two doses.
The ministry released a list of those now eligible for a third shot, prioritizing heart, lung and kidney transplant recipients followed by others with weak immune systems, including cancer patients.