Israel has begun providing healthcare workers and citizens over the age of 60 with a fourth dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced on Sunday evening.

“The significance [of the move] is considerable,” Bennett said during a televised press conference, asserting that it will provide “a new layer of protection” against COVID-19.

However, he stressed, “we cannot be complacent [and] therefore, I call on everyone who is eligible for a fourth dose to get vaccinated.”

Israel is currently facing more than 5,000 verified cases per day, and that figure is expected to exceed 20,000 by the weekend, said Bennett.

Stating that he “greatly understands the [public’s] feelings of frustration and confusion,” Bennett claimed that the “government, for its part, is doing everything to prepare for the storm that is engulfing the world.”

“The good news,” he said, is that those who are thrice vaccinated are greatly protected from severe illness, even when infected.

He called on those not yet vaccinated to get the jab, and to “be strict about masks … [which can make] all the difference between a severe and a mild illness.”

“I also ask you all to show patience and understanding,” he concluded. “If there are problems, and there are—such as long lines for tests—we will deal with them…[so] we are preparing to change the criteria regarding tests in order to quickly reduce the severe crowding.”

Israel’s Sheba Medical Center last week began the world’s first trial of a fourth dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, recruiting 150 employees for the study. Each had received a third, “booster” dose in August.

JNS

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