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As Delta spreads, doctors call for major push to vaccinate reluctant over-50s

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As Israel gets a COVID reality check, doctors are increasingly pressing for the country to launch an all-out effort to vaccinate some 200,000 over-50s who have so far refused the vaccine and are at most risk of serious illness if infected.

The Delta variant is spreading fast in Israel, with 450 new COVID-19 cases confirmed on Thursday, and a total of 3,691 people infected. The government is reporting that vaccines are less effective in preventing infection by Delta than other strains of the coronavirus.

Until a week ago, the spike wasn’t translating to hospitalizations, but over the last week the number of COVID-positive Israelis in hospital has risen from 54 to 70. The number of patients in serious condition has grown from 26 to 39, and Israel reported two coronavirus deaths on Thursday, the first pandemic fatalities in more than two weeks.

As of Friday, 5,712,644 Israelis had received a first dose, while 5,189,094 were fully vaccinated out of a population of some 9 million. However, most of the unvaccinated were young people, with shots for those aged 12-15 only recently approved and under-12 not yet authorized.

Medical experts are clear that the ultimate worry as the Delta variant spreads isn’t high infection numbers, but rather that these could herald many seriously ill patients. And the higher the age of those infected, the higher their chance of getting seriously sick.

So there have been raised eyebrows over the conspicuous absence of a big campaign to galvanize some of the 200,000 over-50s Israelis who aren’t vaccinated — even as the government runs a major government........

© The Times of Israel

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