Who Should Get the Vaccine First?

The arrival of the initial batches of the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Pfizer is the first ray of light in a battle to conquer a virus that has already claimed the lives of over one and a half million people worldwide and led to close to 3,000 mortalities in Israel.

Now that the vaccine is beginning to arrive, the question that governments need to ask themselves is who should be the first recipients?

From a rational perspective the answer should be obvious: Those most at risk. And, therefore, we should be placing medical staff at the top of the list, followed by those working in nursing homes and the elderly.

Naturally there is a considerable degree of anxiety about the effectiveness of the vaccine and what its side-effects might be. There are some who even suggest that heads of government should take the vaccine publicly in order to set an example.

It is interesting to note the different responses of UK prime minister Boris Johnson and Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Sky news reports that Boris Johnson might well take the coronavirus vaccine live on TV.

Allegra Stratton, the former journalist who will lead the new Downing Street briefings, left open that possibility as a way to convince people to get the jab.

However, she added: “But what we also know is that he wouldn’t want to take a jab that should be for somebody who is extremely vulnerable, clinically vulnerable, and who should be getting it before him.”

Note how different that response is from that of Netanyahu, who took advantage of the photo opportunity to go especially to Ben Gurion Airport to be photographed alongside the cargo jet flying in Israel’s first batch of vaccines.

He is reported to have remarked:

“I intend to be the first in the State of Israel to be vaccinated.”

And that says it all.

About the Author
Rabbi Boyden was educated and received his rabbinical ordination in London, England. Having served as the rabbi of Cheshire Reform Congregation for thirteen years, he made aliyah with his family in 1985. He has established Reform congregations in Ra'anana and Hod Hasharon and previously served as director of the Israel Reform Movement's Beit Din.
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