On December 31, 2020 CNBC reported that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goal is to vaccinate 1,000,000 New Yorkers by the end of January. Since December 17, 2020 approximately 500,000 have been vaccinated. As the city of NY has been hit hard by the pandemic, a fast and efficient rollout of the vaccine is critical to get the great city of NY back on track.
Here in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced last Thursday night the commencement of operation “Getting Back to Life”, in which every Israeli over the age of 16 will be vaccinated by the end of March. Sounds lofty? Not really. You may be surprised but as of today close to 2,000,000 Israeli’s (about 20 per 100) have been vaccinated at a remarkable pace of approximately 150,000 vaccines a day. And when we all thought that this insane pace would have to slow down due to a shortage of Pfizer ampules, Pfizer, recognizing Israel’s success in distributing the vaccine offered to fast track the supply of the wonder vaccine to the Israeli medical network so that Israel can be the first vaccinated country providing Pfizer with valuable statistical data to further the efficiency of the vaccine for the benefit of mankind.
My wife referred to this as a modern-day miracle happening right in front of our eyes!
What makes Israeli society so unique?
Many will say that it is due to its military logistics — true. Others will point to Israel’s socialized, centralized but competitive medical network — also true. Some will argue with a passion that it is thanks to our very own tenacious Bibi – well, like it or not, that is definitely true.
I want to share with you my personal vaccination experience.
I was fortunate to get vaccinated last Friday afternoon, just before Shabbat, by the paramedics of Yeshivat Modiin. Yeshivat Meir Harel is a “Hesder” yeshiva in which its students combine military service in the IDF with Judaic study. Over the course of the six-year program the young men are all trained as military paramedics, serve in the IDF for over 2 years and during the balance of the term they devote their days to vigorous study while at night and over the weekends they do rotations as first responders with Israel’s national EMS services (MADA).
As MADA is lending a hand with the vaccination rollout (primarily in non-medical facilities such as nursing homes and other paramedical institutions), they call upon the Yeshiva paramedics to volunteer their time and help. With minutes notice these diligent, capable and highly trained young men drop everything, mobilize and set up highly efficient vaccination stations. I was impressed to see the passion and professionalism in which they operated but what struck me above all was their sense of purpose that they were making a difference and shaping Israeli society.
Our specific setting was a well known Rehab center, in the outskirt hills of Beit Shemesh. For obvious reasons, the residents of the institution who are suffering from various types of addiction cannot go to local clinics to get vaccinated, so the government made special arrangements for the “vaccination to come to them” by deploying MADA, similar to dozens of other institutions. Nobody is left behind. Yeshivat Modiin was charged with the task of administrating the vaccine and at the helm of the operation was their own “Commander in Chief”, the Rosh Yeshiva Rav Eliezer Shenvald, himself a Colonel in the IDF. We waited online for all of the residents to get their shots first and once it was confirmed that there was a surplus of vaccines that could no longer be stored — the paramedics issued the balance of the dosages on a first come first serve basis, thereby ensuring that the precious ampules do not go to waste.
We sincerely wish Mayor de Blasio and other leaders around the world much success in our collective fight against Corona, but if you need some help — learn from the wonderful example of Yeshivat Modiin.