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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

Hawaii invites fully vaccinated travelers to return from Nov. 1

Hawaii Gov. David Ige. Photo: Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) announced plans Wednesday to soon welcome back nonresidents to the island state who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for nonessential travel.

Why it matters: Hawaii's tourist-dependent labor market suffered one of the worst blows in the U.S. last year and the state's climb out of its pandemic-sized hole is moving slowly, Axios' Courtenay Brown notes.

Oct 20, 2021 - Health

In-N-Out refuses to follow San Francisco's vaccine mandate

Photo: James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images

The California burger chain In-N-Out is refusing to follow San Francisco's vaccination mandate, which requires restaurants to check for customers' proof of vaccination to dine indoors, the Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: The San Francisco Public Health Department has had to remind employees multiple times to check for proof of vaccination since September, ultimately resulting in the city's only In-N-Out location getting shut down on Oct. 14. It is the only time the agency has ordered a restaurant's closure over a mandate violation, officials told the Post.

Oct 20, 2021 - Health

New York City announces COVID vaccine mandate for all public workers

A health care worker administering a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to a student in Staten Island in August. Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday announced an expanded COVID-19 vaccine mandate that covers all of the city's public employees, including police officers and firefighters.

Why it matters: Around 71% of city workers have already satisfied the mandate by receiving at least one dose. The remaining 46,000 unvaccinated employees will have to receive their first dose by Oct. 29 or will risk being placed on unpaid leave until they can show proof of a first dose, the Wall Street Journal reported.