Israel, already leading the world in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccines, aims to immunize entire country by the end of March

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Israeli Prime Minister Minister Benjamin Netanyahu receives a coronavirus vaccine at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. Amir Cohen/AP

Israel expects to have immunized all its citizens who are 16-years-old and up by the end of March. 

That timeline would likely make Israel the world’s first country to immunize the vast majority of its population from the pandemic. 

Israel has far outpaced the rest of the world with its vaccination campaign, already having given a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to about one in five citizens.

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Israel expects to administer COVID-19 vaccines to all of its citizens aged 16-years and up by the end of March, putting the Middle Eastern country on pace to become the world’s first nation to immunize its population against the coronavirus. 

“We would bring shipment after shipment and complete the vaccination of the over-16 population is Israel during March,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday in a statement, welcoming a new shipment of doses from the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

Read more: What’s coming next for COVID-19 vaccines? Here’s the latest on 11 leading programs.

While many countries around the globe have yet to even launch vaccination campaigns, Israel has jumped out as the world’s leader. Last week, Netanyahu announced a supply deal with Pfizer to secure enough doses to immunize its adult population by the end of March. Already, nearly one in five Israelis have received a first dose.

“We will be the first country in the world to emerge from the coronavirus,” Netanyahu declared, dubbing the country’s vaccination campaign Operation Getting Back To Life. 

As of January 10, Israel has administered 18.7 doses per 100 people, the highest per-capita rate for any country by a large margin, according to Bloomberg’s vaccination tracker. By comparison, the US has administered 2.4 doses per 100 people, falling far short of the goal of immunizing 20 million people by the end of 2020. 

Israel’s vaccination campaign has also been aided by the country’s small population – less than 9 million – and compact geographic footprint. Experts have also pointed to Israel’s centralized public healthcare system as an asset in its efficient vaccination campaign, Business Insider’s Susie Neilson reported. 

For now, the country has limited vaccinations to people 60 years of age and older, as well as healthcare workers and people at high risk of severe illness. More than 72% of that group has been immunized, the prime minister said.

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