Israel has rolled out the fastest Covid-19 vaccination campaign in the world, inoculating nearly 20% of its population in three weeks. The small country—with roughly nine million people, about the same as New York City—now aims to inoculate the majority of its population by March.
While Israel’s vaccination campaign is relatively simple compared with the mass mobilizations needed by countries such as the U.S. that have many more people spread over a greater sweep of geography, the effort offers some clear lessons.
Dispatch Smaller Vaccine Shipments
The Pfizer Inc. -BioNTech SE vaccine must be administered within five days after it leaves the main storage center and within six hours after a diluent is added before five to six doses are extracted from a vial.
To cope with that short shelf life and to reach less-populated and isolated areas, Israel—with Pfizer’s approval—devised a system to split the company’s 1,000-dose packages into smaller batches of a few hundred each. Workers repackage the vials in workstations equipped with massive freezers.
Israel, like most other countries, is giving priority to medical professionals, people over 60 and those with high-risk conditions as vaccine recipients. But to make sure no vials are wasted, authorities are also allowing vaccine centers to dole out surplus doses to anyone who shows up.