By Shira Hanau
(JTA) — Israel will likely begin administering a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine to seniors, immunocompromised people, and healthcare workers in an effort to stem the spread of the Omicron variant.
The move was recommended Tuesday by the panel of experts advising Israel’s government on the coronavirus pandemic. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had been hinting at the possibility of a fourth shot and embraced the recommendation in a statement Tuesday.
“This is wonderful news that will assist us in getting through the Omicron wave that is engulfing the world,” Bennett said, according to The Times of Israel.
Nachman Ash, the director-general of Israel’s Health Ministry, still has to approve the decision before the shots can be administered.
The step towards administering another booster shot came as the number of cases of the Omicron variant in Israel continues to increase despite travel bans meant to keep out travelers from countries where Omicron is spreading wildly. Bennett acknowledged Tuesday that a fifth wave of the coronavirus within Israel was inevitable.
“We cannot prevent the [next] wave. It’s just not a possibility,” Bennett said in a meeting with members of the government’s coronavirus task force. “But we can certainly give the citizens of Israel the tools to protect themselves, mainly from serious illness, if some of them become infected.”
Israel was the first country in the world to administer a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine as a booster dose, which it began rolling out to those at highest risk from the coronavirus in July.