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Israel introduces Covid immunity passports for vaccinated residents

A health care worker administers a Covid-19 vaccine at Clalit Health Services in the ultra-Orthodox Israeli city of Bnei Brak on January 6, 2021.

JACK GUEZ | AFP | Getty Images

Israel was praised for deploying what is currently the fastest Covid-19 vaccination campaign in the world.

Less than a month after receiving the first shipment of the Pfizer BioNTech shot, the country of 9 million people has vaccinated roughly 20% of its population, and more than 72% of those over 60 have already received their first dose of the shot. The Israeli Ministry of Health aims to have 5.2 million of its citizens vaccinated by March.

The vaccinations, say the authorities, will help the country gradually end its strict lockdown, and soon with the help of a new document: a Covid-19 vaccination certificate or the so-called “green brochure”.

Essentially an immunity pass announced by the Ministry of Health earlier this week. The “green leaflet” is given to people who have received two doses of the vaccine.

“The Ministry of Health will issue the vaccine certificate after receiving the second dose,” the Israel Ministry of Health said on its website. “It will take effect 7 days later, without the day the vaccine is given.”

The brochure would offer vaccinated individuals significant freedom from Covid-19 security restrictions. People who keep it would no longer have to do the following:

  • Go into isolation after coming into contact with an infected person.
  • Go into isolation after international travel to a Covid “red zone” or to countries with very high infection rates.
  • Must be tested before entering certain tourist areas known as “green islands”.

However, they would still need to wear a mask in public and maintain social distance, stay two meters away from others and avoid social gatherings.

Vaccinated people holding the booklet would be “entitled to loose restrictions in travel destinations around the world,” the ministry website said.

Evidence of vaccination data would be registered in the Department of Health’s database and recovered patients who were not vaccinated are not eligible for the brochure, according to the website.

In this aerial photo, taken in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Monday January 4, 2020, people are queuing outside a Covid-19 mass vaccination center in Rabin Sqaure. Israel plans to vaccinate 70% to 80% of its population by April or May. Health Minister Yuli Edelstein has said.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Israel’s lockdown is due to be lifted January 21, but an increase in cases over the past few weeks means it may be extended. The country hit a record high of 9,997 cases on Wednesday, about twice as many as at the end of December. Israel had 523,885 confirmed cases of the virus and 3,846 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The vaccination campaign encountered further obstacles in the Arab and Orthodox Jewish communities in the country, where there is a higher degree of vaccination skepticism. Israel has also been targeted by human rights groups for failing to expand its vaccination campaign to Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian Authority has an agreement with AstraZeneca that it expects to receive its first doses of this vaccine in March. However, she has sharply criticized Israel for shirking its responsibility for providing aid. Israeli officials have said that this should be left to the Palestinian Authority.

According to local Israeli news reports, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks with officials on Tuesday about how to gradually lift the lockdown and introduce the green brochure. No start date was specified.

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