Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Rafi Peretz receives a COVID-19 vaccine injection, March 8, 2021.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says vaccinating Israeli teens ages 12 to 16 against COVID-19 “promises us herd immunity.”

Netanyahu made the remark while attending an appreciation ceremony, together with Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, to applaud health system personnel and partner agencies for their contributions to the fight against the coronavirus.

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Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Pfizer Chairperson and CEO Albert Bourla addressed the gathering via videoconference.

“Israel’s victory was achieved thanks to two basic elements: The millions of vaccines that we brought to the country and their rapid distribution to the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

“This morning we also began vaccinating young people aged 12-16. This is huge news; it promises us herd immunity.”

Kurz underlined Netanyahu’s role in alerting his nation to the “massive danger” of the coronavirus at the start of 2020.

“It was you who first alerted me about the massive danger of the coronavirus at the beginning of last year,” Kurz said to Netanyahu.

“Following your warnings, we took hard measures very early in Austria last year, which helped us to get through the first wave quite effectively.

“As I told you many times, I have been very impressed with the efficiency of your vaccination campaign in Israel. You are so well advanced that you have been able to lift almost all COVID-related restrictions by now. In Austria, we have made good progress as well, and we are also now opening up our society.”

Kurz said he is looking ahead to the “future waves” and said he would like to enhance cooperation on research and development and vaccine production with Israel and Denmark, “as discussed during the visit together with Mette Frederiksen in Jerusalem at the beginning of March.”

Bourla noted that COVID-19 has been “one of the most challenging and devastating health crises the world has ever faced.”

Israel, he said, “has done the most amazing job in mobilizing their healthcare system and delivering the most successful vaccination campaign in the world. I was always impressed by the high standards of Israel’s healthcare system and the high quality of Israel’s medical staff, doctors, nurses and other professionals.

“During my discussions with the Israeli government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convinced me that Israel would be the ideal place to demonstrate to the world what a fast vaccination campaign can achieve. But what Israel was able to eventually achieve exceeded all my expectations,” he added.

At present, 57 percent of the Israeli population has been fully vaccinated. Recently-published data from the Jewish State “suggests that in its first 120 days, [Israel’s] vaccination program with the [Pfizer] vaccine prevented approximately 159,000 infections, 25,000 hospitalizations and 5,500 deaths,” Bourla said.

“Israel should be very proud of being the leader nation in the world in the fight against COVID, and Pfizer is very proud for our contribution to your achievements.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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