Israel-based Pinoys now fully vaccinated–envoy

Ambassador Ilan Fluss

FILIPINOS living in the State of Israel have all been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, and have free access to booster shots.

In a Laging Handa briefing, Ambassador Ilan Fluss mentioned that boosters remain “freely available” to Philippine nationals in the Holy Land, and noted its importance—especially to the elderly.

“All Filipinos: caregivers, diplomats, and other Filipinos in Israel, have been fully vaccinated, and there is no obstacle in receiving their [jabs],” Fluss revealed.

To date the envoy shared that about 6.5 million out of Israel’s total 9.3 million population have received initial vaccination, with 6 million already inoculated the second time, and 4.2 million now with a booster shot.

“The younger generation is not rushing to get vaccinated, especially not for the booster, so we have less than 50 percent who got the booster until now,” he said.

The diplomat disclosed that the Israeli government is currently considering the possibility of offering a “fourth dose” of the vaccine to its population.

“The fourth…is really being seriously considered; but as I said, there’s not enough medical evidence on what will happen if we give [it],” Fluss furthered. “So, it is still being analyzed, but it seems to me that this might be the direction.”

He shared that his country has about 1,118 cases confirmed as Omicron variant infection, 723 of which came from abroad.

“We have another 861 suspicious cases where we believe it might be [Omicron in origin, but we’re still doing the sequencing to identify if it is really the variant],” the envoy illustrated. “And for that reason, we [also have] the protocols in Israel being a little bit more strict.”

This, he said, is a reason Israel remains closed to visitors, and has imposed stricter rules barring the travel of its people to about 70 countries in its “red” list.

Bike grants

MEANWHILE, Mashav—Israel’s Agency for international development cooperation and the Embassy of Israel in the Philippines—cosponsored the “Hospital-in-Bike” project of the Makati Medical (MakatiMed) Center Foundation Inc. It aims to save lives or prevent further injuries by giving urgent medical attention and intervention to remote areas across the country.

The P500,000 grant will be allocated for a basic trauma kit that will include medical supplies and equipment such as nasal-tracheostomy tube, surgical tools and portable oxygen—including specialized communications equipment.

“Part of the embassy and Mashav’s vision is to share with the Philippines the know-how technologies which provided the basis for Israel’s own rapid development,” Fluss remarked. “[We give importance to reaching out to remote communities and supporting them with innovative but simple approaches in dealing] with their needs, such as responding to medical emergencies.”

A total of 100 cycle responders will be beneficiaries: 25 “Tausug Heroes” based in Sulu, as well as 25 cycle responders each in Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. Fluss hopes more communities will benefit from the project in the future, especially in far-flung areas.

He and Deputy Chief of Mission Nir Balzam personally turned over the grant to MakatiMed Foundation President and Mashav alumnus Dr. Victor Gisbert, as well as Executive Director Mary Margaret M. Barro. The foundation’s board of trustees chaired by Manuel V. Pangilinan joined the program online. With a report from Raymond Carl dela Cruz/PNA

Image credits: Manuel T. Cayon


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