JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel has approved a fourth vaccine dose for people most vulnerable to COVID-19, becoming the first country to do so as it braces for a wave of infections fueled by the omicron variant.
The director general of the Health Ministry, Nachman Ash, announced the decision at a press conference late on Thursday.
He says the decision is based on early research, and that officials will consider expanding the administration of a fourth dose to more of the public as they assess the situation.
Israel was among the first countries to roll out Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine a year ago and began freely offering boosters last summer. But it still saw a wave of infections blamed on the delta variant, and officials have warned of another driven by the fast-spreading omicron.
Earlier Thursday, Israel received its first shipment of pills that treat the worst effects of COVID-19.
Israel currently has more than 20,000 active patients, including 94 who are seriously ill. At least 8,243 people have died from COVID-19 in Israel since the start of the pandemic.