Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein paid a visit on Sunday to the Maccabi HMO coronavirus vaccination facility in Tel Aviv.

The country received the first shipment of pharmaceutical firm Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine last week, and also has ordered 6 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine, in addition to developing its own, called BriLife. Israel plans to begin rolling out its vaccination program on Dec. 27.

“The ability of the country’s HMOs to carry out the mission shows us that we will apparently be able to bring forward vaccinating the population of Israel in the optimal manner, in my opinion, the best in the world,” said Netanyahu, according to a statement from his office.

“Moreover, of course, we welcome the fact that the American regulatory agency, the Food and Drug Administration, has approved the Pfizer vaccine. We are beginning the end of the pandemic,” he added.

But until that time, he stressed, “I ask that the rules be strictly followed. There is no reason that we should pay with casualties, with tragedies and with severe cases beyond the necessary minimum. We see what is happening in the world, the huge tragedies in the U.S., Germany, Russia and other parts of Europe. Israel can exit this better. I ask for your cooperation. What I can tell you today is that we are on the way to bringing forward the vaccinations.”

Edelstein said that vaccinations could possibly begin earlier than projected.

“I saw very advanced stages of preparation here. It could be that vaccinations could start earlier, maybe by next week we will be able to start vaccinating the medical teams,” said the health minister.

Edelstein added that it was time to begin taking on the “fake news” surrounding the vaccines.

“I want to start fighting this even now. We have seen accounts to the effect that several items [needed for the vaccine] are lacking. These are mere rumors. Nothing is lacking. The four HMOs are exceptionally well prepared. In the coming days we will bring news to Israel that it will be among the first countries in the world that is vaccinating,” he said.

According to an Israel Hayom poll, 37 percent of respondents said that they will refuse vaccines, while 19 percent would neither confirm nor deny whether they plan to get vaccinated. Forty-four percent of respondents said that they intend to get the vaccine.

JNS

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