On Sunday, many Israelis lose their Corona certificate – the green passport, which confirms that they are adequately vaccinated. A new certificate is tied to one condition – and this is controversial in Israel.
It is the entrance ticket to public life in Israel – the Green Pass. Without the QR code on the mobile phone, there is no access to restaurants, sports facilities, cultural institutions and universities. Originally, everyone who received the second vaccination was issued a Green Passport by the end of 2021. This will now expire on October 3rd.
You can only get a new one if you have been vaccinated three times or have had the second vaccination within the last six months. Or you can be tested. Children under three years of age are also excluded.
Currently in Israel around 35 percent of the Israeli population have been vaccinated three times, and 60 percent have received the second vaccination. An estimated one million of the approximately 9.4 million Israelis could lose their Green Passports as of Sunday, including many teachers. For them, the following applies: Without this admission ticket, there is no access to schools and no payment. No other industry is treated in this way, criticizes the director of the teachers’ union. He calls for a transition period during which teachers can be vaccinated.
A disproportionate measure?
Zvika Granot, an immunologist at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, believes it is disproportionate to withdraw the Green Pass from people who have been vaccinated twice. “I find it shocking how quickly people are giving up what we see as basic civil rights,” he says.
Granot advocates differentiating according to age: “A young person’s immune system is significantly better than that of an older person, so you cannot use the same vaccination strategy for everyone.” He fears that the new Green Pass rule will reduce the acceptance of vaccinations among the population.
Necessary for all public life?
The Green Passport is not about forcing people to vaccinate, countered Nadav Davidovitch, director of the School of Public Health at Ben Gurion University and corona advisor to the Israeli government. The aim of the Green Pass is to protect not only individuals but also society as a whole and to keep public life as open as possible. Because the strategy of the Israeli government is: vaccination instead of lockdown, despite the high overall number of infections.
The third vaccination shows its effect, says Davidovitch. He points to data that the booster shot was fifty times better protection against severe disease than if one was not vaccinated, and about ten times better than if the second vaccination was more than six months ago. Data from the Israeli Ministry of Health showed that the booster shot also reduced the risk of infection and serious illness in young people, according to Davidovitch.
He thinks it is right to use the new Green Pass regulation to encourage all Israelis from the age of twelve to get vaccinated. Still, the measures would have to be proportionate – he believes that low-risk activities such as going to an outdoor pool should not require a Green Pass.
High number of new infections
Israel was one of the countries with the highest number of new infections in the world in the past few months, with seven-day incidences of over 700. Meanwhile, the spread of the delta variant is slowing down, and the number of difficult courses is also falling. The majority of Covid19 patients treated in hospital are unvaccinated.
With the new rule for the Green Pass, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is now taking flight. He increases the pressure to vaccinate, because he absolutely wants to avoid a lockdown – even if he is heavily criticized for it.