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Learnings From Israel’s Vaccine Distribution Programme

by Madonna Watts D'Souza
Learnings From Israel’s Vaccine Distribution Programme

January 8, 2021

As the pandemic surges on despite the arrival of vaccines, the world can learn quite a lot from Israel's healthcare when it comes to vaccine distribution.

Israel is a tiny country situated in the Middle East— one that has been very prominent in the world in terms of research, development, and healthcare. Despite the year 2020 coming to an end, the Coronavirus seems to have no signs of slowing down with a highly virulent mutant freshly emerging in the United Kingdom.

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A healthcare worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine to an Israeli woman at Clalit Health Services, in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, Jan. 3, 2021.

Impeccable Israeli System

Even though vaccine deployment is underway in many nations across the world, it is vital to know that the inoculation process will indeed take some time for their populations to be immune from the coronavirus. Israel, however, has already vaccinated most of its people, setting records for more vaccine inoculation than anywhere else in the world.

Israel’s Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, on Sunday, January 3rd, outlined, “I have been interviewed by many, and the world wants to know how Israel does it. The key facts are that we were ready on time, signed with the leading pharmaceutical firms on time, and convinced them that if they gave us the vaccine, the health officials administer it in a short time while saving many lives. That is exactly what is happening.”

The world actually has a few lessons to learn from Israel’s vaccination drive.

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A health care worker prepare a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Clalit Health Services, in the northern Arab Israeli city of Umm al Fahm , on Jan. 4, 2021. (JACK GUEZ)

Why has Israel been so Successful with Vaccine Distribution?

Israel had a universal healthcare system even before it became a country back in 1948. This effectively played an essential role in boosting the public health system to distribute the vaccines to the Israeli people. Universal healthcare that is persistent in Israel provides the citizens with medical benefits without any costs. These medical aids include a general doctor’s appointment, urgent hospitalization, lab tests, and most importantly, vaccinations during a crisis.

Ran Balicer, Chief Innovation Officer, Clalit Health Services, as well as the chairman of the National Expert Advisory Panel to the government on the pandemic, said, “The system revolves around the intimate connection from the cradle to the grave between citizens and their healthcare provider.”

The Israeli people also have a relationship built on trust with the nation’s functioning model and, in turn, with institutions like healthcare. Although 62% of its population doesn’t trust the current government, according to the Israel Democracy Institute, a survey in 2020 conducted by Myers-JDC-Brookdale revealed that 90 per cent of Israelis are content with their current health system.

This means that a lot of people are employed and are beneficiaries of the state’s health funds. Clalit is the largest employer in Israel, with a workforce of more than 45,000 people. The Leumit Health Care Services additionally revealed that these government’s health funds employ 2,000 specialists among its tremendous work force.

Having this immense manpower; a clinic in every neighborhood in the country from north to the south gives the health funds a lot of power.

- Ran Balicer, Chief Innovation Officer, Clalit Health Services

These funds have funded the citizens of Israel during vaccination drives. Fishman-Magen expressed, “We run vaccination campaigns all the time. We do it every winter when we vaccinate against flu, and we have been called upon to vaccinate against other diseases too, like measles or polio. This is something to which we are accustomed.”

Technology and Effective Communication

The advancements of technology and communication in Israel have also contributed to this success tale. Israel boasts an incredible technological infrastructure where data of the health funds and vaccines is effectively stored and monitored. It is noteworthy to know that the government’s health fund records specifically have access to decades of citizen’s data.

During the vaccination drive, communication was an integral effort for both the vaccine administrators and the receivers. Television, social media, and the internet also played a significant role in providing a streamlined path for passing along credible information. Those who were vaccinated were encouraged to share their experiences online. 

“We took the time to exemplify the scientific evidence. I went to key sessions with the Haredi people and held long negotiations with their administration until we had a rabbinical decree that vaccines are safe and should be asked for,” said Balicer. This was done as a part of the efforts to gain people’s trust in the vaccine by crossing different religious and communal lines.

People's Hope and Trust

And lastly, the positive spirit shown by the citizens of Israel aided the nation’s vaccination effort with the success. With almost 13 per cent of its population vaccinated, the highest anywhere globally, Israelis have shown that unless the citizens aren’t willing to take the lead, nothing is possible. Healthcare professionals were willing to work for extra hours to ensure that a fair number of people were vaccinated every day.

Besides this, the nation’s zeal to get vaccinated is still increasing the number of people getting immunized against the ghastly coronavirus. The selflessness of the COVID-19 Warriors, combined with the citizens’ respect and willingness, has pushed Israel one step closer to conquering the battle against the coronavirus. While the world may still have a lot to take care of as the new mutant and other issues surge, it is safe to say that a few notes from Israel may help many countries in the long run.

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