Updated: July 13, 2021 11:40:17 am
Israel’s Ministry of Health on Monday issued guidelines for administering a third shot of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to people with compromised immune systems, citing the rising infection rate in recent weeks as well as growing evidence that such people do not develop sufficient antibodies after two doses.
The ministry released a list of those now eligible for a third shot, prioritizing heart, lung and kidney transplant recipients followed by others with weak immune systems including cancer patients.
Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv began giving third Pfizer shots to dozens of heart transplant recipients Monday afternoon, an hour after receiving a green light from the Ministry of Health.
“It’s really urgent to do it now,” Galia Rahav, the head of the Infectious Disease Unit and Laboratories at the Sheba Medical Center, said in a video statement, citing the rise of the delta variant. The hospital said it would be testing and tracking the recipients of the third shot for research purposes.
Israel initially led the world with a rapid vaccination campaign and 57% of its population is fully vaccinated. But the arrival of the highly contagious delta variant has brought a rise in daily infections, up from single digits a month ago to an average of 452 cases per day. About 58% of the 81 Israeli COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized are vaccinated, according to Israeli Ministry of Health data. Studies suggest that vaccines remain effective against the delta variant.
Health care providers in France have been giving a third dose of a two-dose vaccine to people with certain immune conditions since April.
The number of organ transplant recipients who had antibodies increased to 68% four weeks after the third dose, up from 40% after the second dose, one team of French researchers recently reported. In the United States, there has been no concerted effort by federal agencies or vaccine manufacturers to test this approach.
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