Israel wants to vaccinate pupils during school hours

Tel Aviv, Aug. 23, (dpa/GNA) - With the start of the new school year approaching on September 1, Israel has said it wants to vaccinate pupils against the coronavirus during school hours.

Parents' consent is required for this, the government's Coronavirus Cabinet announced on Monday.

Israel generally vaccinates children who are 12 years old and above, in exceptional cases even as young as 5. However, the latter only applies to children who are particularly at risk - for example, due to extreme obesity, severe chronic lung diseases or heart problems.

The country of 9.4 million inhabitants is currently trying to slow the rise of new coronavirus infections with a fresh vaccination campaign.

On Monday, the Ministry of Health reported 5,383 new cases. At the same time, 672 seriously ill people were registered - the highest figure since March - while 16 more people died.

So far, almost 59 per cent of the population has been vaccinated twice: about 29 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds and 69 per cent of 16- to 19-year-olds. For the over-70s, the proportion is over 90 per cent.

Because of the pandemic, special rules apply at schools. In "red cities" with particularly high numbers of new infections, there are only face-to-face classes if at least 70 per cent of the students in the class have been vaccinated, otherwise they all have to attend online classes.

In addition, about 1.6 million pupils are to be tested for antibodies against the virus this month. Those who can prove they have antibodies will not have to be quarantined if there is a case of coronavirus in the class.

In addition, 2 million students are to take a rapid test at home immediately before school starts again.