KEY POINTS

  • Israel may expand its COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to cover children aged between 6 months old and 5 years old by April
  • The country aims to introduce infant doses of the vaccine "soon," a top epidemiologist says
  • Health officials expect COVID-19 vaccines to be administered during childhood once the disease becomes endemic

Babies and toddlers in Israel will be eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccines in a few months, according to the country's health officials.

"In Israel, vaccines are available now for everybody aged 5 and over. I believe by April this will be expanded for any age above 6 months," Dr. Asher Shalmon, the Israeli Health Ministry’s director of international relations, said during a press briefing to foreign policymakers and journalists this week, The Times of Israel reported.

Shalmon did not reveal which vaccine brands would be available to children in the age bracket should they become eligible for the jabs.

Pfizer, which co-developed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, is currently in the process of conducting clinical trials to lower the approved age for its vaccine from 5 years to 6 months.

An ongoing trial of the Pfizer vaccine on children within the age bracket found "no safety concerns" and showed that the vaccine had "demonstrated a favorable safety profile."

Israel is aiming to introduce infant doses of the COVID-19 vaccine "soon," government coronavirus adviser Professor Nadav Davidovitch was cited as saying Wednesday by i24News.

Additionally, the epidemiologist said he expects that once COVID-19 becomes an endemic disease, vaccines will be administered during childhood.

"My prediction is when the disease is endemic, we’re going to have COVID vaccines as part of a regular vaccine schedule like MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine), so people who are born will get the vaccination schedule along with other vaccines," Davidovitch said.

Israel has reported a total of 1,589,099 COVID-19 cases and 8,274 virus-related deaths as of writing, according to publicly available data provided by Johns Hopkins University.

The country, once praised for its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, began administering fourth vaccine doses to its citizens amid a nationwide surge of infections caused by the omicron variant.

While the recently approved boosters were only eligible for "the most vulnerable to COVID-19," most people should have sufficient long-term protection with just three shots, according to experts.

"It is possible that people who have had two or three doses of the current vaccines, and then been exposed during this wave to omicron or are exposed during future waves to other less virulent variants, will not need another booster at all," Professor Eyal Leshem, an infectious disease specialist at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, told CNBC.

An Israeli health worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
An Israeli health worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 to a child in the central Israeli city of Modiin AFP / GIL COHEN-MAGEN
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