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Opinion
Zev Chafets

Do Israelis Really Need a Fourth Covid Shot?

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett proposes another vaccination but gets political, public and scientific pushback.

A health worker takes a swab sample from a child for a Covid-19 rapid antigen test In August.

A health worker takes a swab sample from a child for a Covid-19 rapid antigen test In August.

Photographer: Kobi Wolf/Bloomberg

One week ago, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced that, in response to the omicron mutation sweeping Africa and Europe, Israel would be inoculating its vulnerable population with a fourth round of Pfizer vaccine, a booster to the booster. “The citizens of Israel were the first in the world to receive the third dose of Covid-19 vaccination and we are continuing to pioneer with the fourth,” he declared. “The world will follow in our footsteps.”   

Not so fast. Israeli Covid experts, who have usually fallen in line with the government’s vaccination policies, sounded a note of concern and skepticism this time. They conceded that it might work, but that it could also prove ineffective or worse, dangerous.  The public, too, was unenthusiastic. Israelis who thought they were fully vaccinated discovered that they were not. Bennett’s announcement raised the possibility that they were going to be used as guinea pigs (or “pioneers” in the prime minister’s phrase). Bennett was forced to postpone the fourth jab.