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181. Israeli govt confirms it will issue Covid vaccine passports

Israel has confirmed that it will issue official identification to those who receive a coronavirus jab, which will be used to bestow certain privileges not enjoyed by people who remain unvaccinated.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Wednesday that plans to create a “green” Covid-19 passport would soon be implemented as Israel gears up to begin mass vaccinations.

“Two weeks after the second shot, a person who was vaccinated will receive a green passport,” he explained, adding that the document will “free people from isolation [requirement]” and “allow [people] to enter places that will still be restricted to other populations.”

The health minister acknowledged that the rollout of the new form of identification was a “difficult logistical operation” and that the government was still deciding how the passports would work in practice.

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he had instructed health officials to develop a passport plan “by which whoever receives a vaccine will be able to show a card or an app that will enable them to enter events, malls, facilities, and all kinds of services.” The Israeli leader said the program was designed to “encourage vaccinations.”

Israel has already imposed two national lockdowns since the health crisis began in March, and continues to enforce certain restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.

Israel began receiving doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine earlier this month, and is expected to start administering the jab to high-priority groups such as health workers starting on Sunday.

The government has set a target of 60,000 vaccinations per day once the inoculation drive begins. Israel hopes to acquire eight million doses of the drug by the end of March – enough to vaccinate four million people.

Countries around the world are launching large-scale Covid-19 vaccination programs, with some governments signaling that those who refuse to participate will face restrictions. Ireland’s Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said on Wednesday that vaccine certificates would be issued, but that their future use would depend on how effective the drug is at limiting the spread of the disease.

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