The Israeli government is gearing up for the battle with the impending sixth wave of the coronavirus, known as the BA.2 subvariant.
“In light of the takeover of the BA.2 variant and the renewed rise in corona morbidity in recent days, the Ministry of Health and the Corona National Information Headquarters, the HMOs and IDF Home Front Command are launching a joint operation aimed at increasing the level of immunity and protection against this disease,” the Health Ministry said Thursday night (March 24).
“It should be noted that in the omicron wave, 94 percent of the deceased were over the age of 60, and therefore they constitute the main risk group against this variant,” the ministry said.
“The total unvaccinated population over the age of 60 constitutes only five percent in this age group, but 40 percent (!) Of those who died in the omicron wave.”
Data from studies around the world and in Israel show a high and significant effectiveness of vaccines in preventing serious illness and mortality, both for the third and the fourth dose for those who have passed four months after the third vaccine, the ministry added.
As part of the operation, the HMOs will use SMS to directly contact their members age 60 and up directly, as well as anyone who has not been vaccinated at all (120,000), or who has not completed the third vaccine dose (92,000).
Medical personnel will administer the vaccine as needed at the homes of those who are unable to get to their HMO clinics.
In addition, the Coronavirus National Information Headquarters will launch a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the importance of a fourth dose of the vaccine for eligible people aged 60 and over (450,000). The campaign will be led by Prof. Ran Blitzer and Prof. Yehonatan Halevi together with doctors from all the HMOs.
At the same time, the headquarters will also launch a campaign to encourage the wearing of masks and careful handling of at-risk populations.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz met Thursday (March 24) to discuss the vaccination effort and ways to continue dealing with the coronavirus.
Also participating in the discussion were the director generals of the Health, Public Security and Education ministries, the Defense Ministry civil defense director, the national coronavirus project manager, the Director of the Public Health Service, the Health Ministry Director of Public Health, the Deputy Director of the National Security Council, GOC Home Front Command, the director generals of the Maccabi, Leumit, Meuhedet and Clalit HMOs, and additional professionals.
The plan for dealing with BA.2 presented by the Health Ministry, IDF Home Front Command, the Transportation Ministry and the Defense Ministry civil defense director, also includes – inter alia — “quickly closing the skies and border crossings” to prevent the entry of future variants, the prime minister’s office (PMO) said.
The existing policy for dealing with the coronavirus and deferring entry to the country is to be extended into a ‘between the waves’ status from 1 April 2022 to 1 May 2022.
In addition, the IDF Home Front Command and Health Ministry command centers will continue their operations, along with those responsible for coronavirus policy at educational institutions and local authorities.
Testing – including sewage monitoring, radar systems and the purchase of antigen kits – will also continue, as will the deployment of air filters in educational institutions, according to the PMO.