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Israel begins offering fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose to elderly and medical workers

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By Euronews  with AFP
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An Israeli patient receives a fourth dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan.
An Israeli patient receives a fourth dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov

Israel has begun vaccinating citizens with the fourth dose of a COVID-19 jab amid a new spike of infections.

Citizens aged 60 and over — as well as medical staff — will be offered this second booster dose of the vaccine, the Israeli government announced on Sunday.

The additional jab will be offered to those who had received their third dose more than four months ago.

"The wave of Omicron variant is here and we need to protect ourselves," said Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday.

"Israel will once again be pioneering the global vaccination effort," Bennett added.

Israel had begun offering citizens a third dose of the vaccine last summer and has been a frontrunner in its inoculation campaign.

In the last 24 hours, Israel has recorded 6,562 cases of the virus — an increase of more than 50 per cent in one day, according to the health ministry's report. Severe cases have also risen, but at a much lower rate, from around 80 to 100.

Israel has also recently approved an antiviral pill approved by Merck for COVID-19 patients aged over 18.