JERUSALEM, Israel – The first planeload of Pfizer coronavirus vaccines arrived at Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was there to celebrate the vaccine’s arrival and said the day was a “great holiday for the State of Israel.”
"I have been serving as Prime Minister of Israel for more than a few years and this is one of the most moving moments that I have worked on very hard, for long months, with the Health Minister and the people of his ministry, in order to bring relief and a solution to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Netanyahu.
The plane landed from Brussels carrying some 3,000 doses of the vaccine. Hundreds of thousands more doses are expected to arrive on Thursday. During his speech, the prime minister vowed to bring “millions of vaccines” to Israel.
“We see the end. We still need to follow the rules regarding masks, hands and distancing, but the end is in sight. What is important to me is that millions of Israelis be vaccinated,” he said. "I am certain that many of you will also do so. We see the light at the end of the pandemic. This is a holiday for Israel."
“I believe in this vaccine. I expect that it will receive the appropriate permits in the coming days and I want the citizens of Israel to be vaccinated. In order to do this, I want to serve as an example for them and I intend to be the first in the State of Israel to be vaccinated with this vaccine,” Netanyahu added.
Last month, Netanyahu announced Israel had purchased eight million doses of the vaccine, enough to immunize four million Israelis. The Health Ministry intends to start vaccinating Israelis on Dec. 20, according to reports.
The arrival of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday comes just one day after the United Kingdom began mass vaccinations using the Pfizer vaccine.
Israel also signed a deal with Moderna to bring six million doses of its vaccine to the country – enough to inoculate three million people.
On Tuesday, the Israeli government reversed its decision to impose a nationwide curfew to fight the virus due to legal concerns. Instead of enacting more restrictions, the government decided to open malls, museums, and all outdoor markets.
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