JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he has reached a new agreement with the Pfizer drug company that will allow Israel to vaccinate all citizens over 16 by the end of March.
Israel has already secured millions of doses and launched one of the earliest and fastest vaccination drives in the world. The country of 9 million has already vaccinated more than 15% of its population. Israel’s Magen David Adom medical service said Thursday it has given the first of two vaccine doses to all nursing home residents and staff.
Netanyahu said that under the agreement with Pfizer, Israel would be a “global model” and a source of statistical data that could be used to combat the pandemic elsewhere.
Despite the vaccine campaign, Israel has seen a surge in cases, leading authorities to tighten an already existing lockdown. Most schools and businesses will be closed starting Friday, with public gatherings restricted for a two-week period.
Netanyahu says “we have victory within reach,” and is calling on Israelis to abide by the lockdown in “one last big effort.”
Palestinians living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza will have to wait longer, as Israel has not announced any plans to distribute the vaccine to them. The Palestinian Authority says it has not requested any from Israel, and is instead relying on a World Health Organization program.