The Israeli military has become the first military to reach herd immunity against the coronavirus, the head of the military’s Technology and Logistics Director Major General Itzik Turgeman announced on Thursday. The milestone was reached after a robust vaccination drive that attracted praise from around the world.
“After 10 weeks, I can declare that the IDF is the first military in the world to reach herd immunity,” General Turgeman said.
According to General Turgeman, 81 percent of the military had received a coronavirus vaccine or recovered from the virus in the past. He estimates that the number of protected soldiers could reach 85% by next week.
A report by the IDF’s Intelligence Corps also noted that the rate of verified cases is steadily declining and the number of patients in critical condition is also declining slowly. According to the report, confirmed cases among soldiers have also dropped to 149 as of Thursday from a peak of 2,033 last month.
The herd immunity would allow the military to return to normal operations however, the report says that the scope of the virus is “still high and one should beware of complacency.”
Vaccinating all of the soldiers is not possible because no one was forced to get the vaccine. About 8 percent of the soldiers have not been vaccinated due to various medical reasons. Meanwhile, some of the soldiers have refused to be vaccinated. However, the number of people who refuse or don’t want to get vaccinated is getting smaller every day.
Despite the logistical challenges no vaccine was destroyed during the entire vaccination process.
“We taught the paramedics to carry out the mission. We succeeded in using all the vaccines that we received from the civilian health care system,” said Professor Alon Galzberg, the army’s surgeon-general.
The IDF will now turn the focus on the issue of conscription.
“We are aware that we will have to vaccinate a large number of new recruits,” Glazberg said. The Army has decided to inoculate fresh arrivals when they begin basic training, rather than the very day that they are drafted.
The effective vaccination drive will allow the military to hold exercises normally, forcing units to scale back or even cancel some of their drills in some cases.
“We can now do things differently. We can train more freely,” Glazberg said.