Israel Serves as an Example for Vaccine Distribution


Israel is having success with its mass vaccination efforts. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The COVID-19 pandemic has been going on for almost a year. Vaccine distribution hints at a light at the end of the tunnel, something that citizens have become desperate for. However, this light is dimmed by the slowness of vaccine distribution in the U.S. 

Israel, on the other hand, is having success with their mass vaccination efforts. The Times of Israel reports that the country is currently vaccinating anyone over the age of 16. The only problem Israel is running into is that there is more demand than there is supply. Unfortunately, the U.S. is facing the opposite problem. The U.S. should take a page out of Israel’s book and just try to get as many shots in arms as possible.

The CDC has repeatedly said that the only way to get things back to normal is to reach herd immunity, which is projected to be between 70%-90% for this virus. The New York Times reports that 70% of the population will not be even partially vaccinated until the end of June. Currently, the U.S. has only partially vaccinated 11% of the population, while The Times of Israel reports that over a third of Israel’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

While Israel has a smaller population size compared to the U.S., they were able to create a mass vaccination program that allowed them to start vaccinating their citizens as young as 16. The U.S., on the other hand, does not have a nationwide age group currently being vaccinated. The ages of people eligible to receive the vaccine differs by state and, even in some cases by county. The disorganization of the U.S. vaccine distribution could be part of the problem. 

Each individual state gets to decide which group they are currently vaccinating with the guidance of CDC recommendations. However, Kentucky is currently vaccinating residents over the age of 60 in some counties, while their neighboring state Tennessee is only vaccinating ages 70 and up. The disparity between policies could be contributing to a lag in distribution. 

Looking at past vaccine rollouts can help us understand the distribution process for this vaccine. According to the New York Times many vaccines such as the polio vaccine and more recently the H1N1 vaccine have also been distributed based on who is the most at risk. However, when there was a smallpox outbreak in New York City in 1947, the health commissioner called for everyone to get vaccinated. Health care providers and volunteers went to schools, people lined up outside the New York City Health Department and within a month 6 million New Yorkers had been vaccinated. 

The BBC reports that there are early signs that the reason Israel’s infection rate is decreasing is because of mass vaccinations as there was little change in the infection rate from simply implementing a lockdown order. 

The only way to get back to normal is to reach herd immunity. Vaccinating as many people as possible should be the focus. The next step should be considering if the vaccine should be mandatory if you want to safely go to school again, live in a dorm, work in an office, go to a concert or movie or even just to gather your loved ones together.

Jamison Rodgers, FCRH ’23, is an English major from Silver Spring, Md.