Israel is launching Covid immunity passports for vaccinated citizens

A healthcare 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 ImagesIsrael has been lauded for deploying what is currently the fastest Covid-19 vaccination campaign in the world. Less than a month after receiving its first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, the country of 9 million has vaccinated around 20% of its population, and more than 72% of people over the age of 60 have already gotten their first dose of the shot. Israel’s health ministry aims to have 5.2 million of its citizens vaccinated by March.The vaccinations, officials say, will help the country gradually exit its strict lockdown, and soon with the help of a new document: a Covid-19 vaccination certification, or what’s being called the “green booklet.”Essentially an immunity passport announced by the Ministry of Health earlier this week, the “green booklet” would be given to people who’ve received two doses of the vaccine.”The Ministry of Health will issue the vaccine certificate after receiving the second dose,” Israel’s Health Ministry said on its website. “It will take effect 7 days later, not counting the day of vaccine administration.”The booklet would offer vaccinated individuals significant freedom from Covid-19 safety restrictions. People holding it would no longer have to do the following:Go into isolation after coming in contact with an infected person.Go into isolation after international traveling to a Covid “red zone,” or countries with very high infection rates.Have to be tested before entering certain touristy areas, known as “green islands.”They would still, however, be required to wear a mask in public and maintain social distancing, staying two meters from others and avoiding social gatherings. Vaccinated people holding the booklet would be “eligible for relaxed restrictions in destinations around the world,” the ministry’s website said.  Data on proof of vaccination would be registered in the Ministry of Health’s database, and recovered patients who have not been vaccinated are not eligible for the booklet, according to the website. People queue outside a Covid-19 mass vaccination center at Rabin Sqaure in this aerial photograph taken in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Monday, Jan. 4, 2020. Israel plans to vaccinate 70% to 80% of its population by April or May, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein has said.Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty ImagesIsrael’s lockdown is set to begin being lifted on Jan. 21, but a spike in cases in recent weeks means it may be extended. The country registered a record high of 9,997 cases on Wednesday, around double the daily case figure at the end of December. Israel has had 523,885 confirmed cases of the virus and 3,846 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.  The vaccination drive has faced more obstacles in Arab and Orthodox Jewish communities in the country, where there is higher vaccine skepticism. Israel has also come under fire from human rights groups for not extending its vaccination campaign to Palestinian territories.  The Palestinian Authority has made an agreement with AstraZeneca and expects to get its first doses of that vaccine in March, but has strongly criticized Israel for what it sees as shirking its responsibility to provide aid. Israeli officials have said that this should be up to the Palestinian Authority.     According to local Israeli news reports, Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday held talks with officials concerning how to incrementally lift the lockdown and how to introduce the green booklet. No date for its launch was given.

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