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A health care worker administering a coronavirus vaccine in Modi'in-Maccabim-Re'ut, Israel, on July 5. Photo: Gil Cohen Magen/Xinhua via Getty Images

Israel on Monday will begin offering a third dose of Pfizer and BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine as a booster shot for people with weakened immune systems, according to the Times of Israel.

Why it matters: It's one of the first countries to offer booster shots to bolster protection against the rapidly spreading Delta variant. The Israeli Health Ministry is still determining whether an extra shot should be offered to the general public.

  • Despite a world-leading vaccine rollout, new coronavirus cases have surged in Israel over the past month in part because of the highly contagious Delta variant.
  • Israel's Health Ministry announced last week that the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine had dropped to 64% against all COVID-19 infections, down from 95% in May.

What they're saying: World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday criticized the notion of administering booster doses in high-income countries when many low-income countries are struggling with gaining access to first doses.

  • "We’re making conscious choices right now not to protect those in most need,” Tedros said. "Currently, data shows us that vaccination offers long-lasting immunity against severe and deadly COVID-19. The priority now must be to vaccinate those who have received no doses and protection."
  • "Instead of Moderna and Pfizer prioritizing the supply of vaccine as boosters to countries whose populations have relatively high coverage, we need them to go all out to channel supply to COVAX, the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team and low- and middle-income countries which have very low vaccine coverage," he continued.

The big picture: Pfizer and BioNTech announced last week that they will seek authorization to offer an updated booster shot in the United States and European countries.

  • Pfizer also released the results of a study on booster shots, finding that a third dose was 5–10 times more effective at neutralizing the virus than two doses because of "an observed decline in efficacy against symptomatic disease over time."

Go deeper ... Study: Delta coronavirus variant evades antibodies through mutations

Correction: This story has been updated to remove references to Israel being the first country to offer a third booster shot. Turkey and several other countries offered boosters after Chinese-made vaccines provided weak protection against COVID.

Go deeper

18 hours ago - Health

Pfizer CEO: Company will submit data for children's vaccine to FDA in "days"

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Photo: John Thys/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer plans to submit data about its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 to the Food and Drug Administration "pretty soon," CEO Albert Bourla told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.

Why it matters: The start of the school year saw a rise in COVID-19 infections among kids, and heightened the focus on when the vaccine will be available for children.

Sep 26, 2021 - Health

New York prepares for staff shortages from health vaccine mandate

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul during a news conference Tuesday in New York City. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Saturday she would declare a state of emergency if there were health worker shortages due to New York's upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Why it matters: Hochul moved to reassure concerns of staffing shortages in the health care sector in a statement that also outlined plans to call in medically trained National Guard members, workers from outside New York and retirees if necessary when the mandate takes effect Monday.

NYC schools prepare for staffing shortages ahead of vaccine mandate deadline

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in the Brooklyn borough of New York on Sept. 13, 2021. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

Teachers and workers at New York City schools have until Monday to receive their COVID-19 vaccine before the city's mandate takes effect, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the city, ABC 7 reports.

Why it matters: About 6,000 teachers remain unvaccinated as the mandate's deadline looms, the New York Times reports.