Israel will begin administering the coronavirus vaccine to citizens on December 27, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday night.
Speaking at a news conference on the day that the first several thousand Pfizer vaccines landed in Israel, Netanyahu said the aim would be to administer jabs to 60,000 of its 9 million citizens per day, mainly through the local health funds.
A cargo plane landed at Ben Gurion Airport carrying what officials said were tens of thousands of doses of vaccines for a trial run of transportation and storage procedures.
“I believe in this vaccine. I expect that it will get the requisite (regulatory) approvals in the coming days,” Netanyahu said in an airport ceremony, adding that he intended to be the first Israeli to be vaccinated.
“This is one of the most moving moments that I have worked on very hard, for long months, with the Health Minister and his ministry to bring relief and a solution to the coronavirus pandemic,” Netanyahu said as the forklift lowered the container with the vaccines. “We are here today on a great holiday for the State of Israel. We see the end.”
Another cargo plane carrying hundreds of thousands more vaccine doses is scheduled to arrive on Thursday, and a million more will arrive next week.
Every person who is vaccinated will receive a green passport and will be able to move freely, he added, though he and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said the details of the program would be coming soon.
Pfizer and its partner BioNTech agreed last month to provide Israel with 8 million doses of the vaccine, which Britain became the first country to administer on Tuesday.
Israel has also ordered vaccines from Moderna Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc.
An Israeli cabinet member said this week that the Pfizer vaccines would be administered first to the elderly and other high-risk populations.
The country, which has reported 348,968 coronavirus cases and 2,932 deaths, is experiencing the start of what some consider a third wave of the pandemic.