Israel will require a booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated

The booster shots are Pfizer vaccinations, by far the most commonly administered in Israel. PHOTO: AFP

JERUSALEM (NYTIMES) - Israel on Sunday (Oct 3) introduced new rules for determining coronavirus vaccination status, making a booster shot a requirement for full inoculation and vaccination passports.

After pioneering booster shots for everyone aged 12 and older, Israel is believed to be the first country to condition the validity of vaccination passports on having received a booster.

The country said it would soon cancel the vaccination passports of more than 1 million people, mainly those who are eligible for, but have not yet received, a third vaccination shot.

To be considered fully vaccinated in Israel, people must meet one of the following criteria: be 12 or older and have received a booster shot at least a week ago; be within six months of having received a second vaccination shot; or be within six months of having tested positive for Covid-19.

The booster shots are Pfizer vaccinations, by far the most commonly administered in Israel.

In Israel, a Green Pass - a digital or paper vaccination certificate - is required for entry to public spaces, including restaurants, hotels, clubs, cultural venues and large private gatherings. Unvaccinated people can gain entry only with a proof of a negative rapid test carried out at an authorised test station, which is valid for 24 hours, or a negative PCR test valid for 72 hours.

The change in policy came after Israeli health officials and experts identified a significant waning of immunity in people five or six months after their second Pfizer dose and after studies indicated the effectiveness of the booster shot in preventing severe disease as Israel battled a fourth wave brought on by the highly infectious delta variant this summer.

There are signs that the fourth wave is being contained. The daily average of infections has dropped by about 54 per cent over the past two weeks, and the number of severe cases among the hospitalised is decreasing.

"Now is the time to be strict about the Green Pass, be cautious and not become complacent," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel said late on Saturday (Oct 2).

Israel initially led the world with its rapid vaccine rollout and, with a population of just more than 9 million, is one of the most vaccinated societies. More than 3.4 million people have received a third dose.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.