A third of Israeli adults over the age of 60 have already received a coronavirus booster shot, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday, as the country struggles to contain a surge in infections.

About 420,000 older Israelis received a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine last week, and the total was expected to rise to more than 500,000 on Sunday, Mr Bennett told a Cabinet meeting.

He urged health officials to further increase the number of shots given, in a bid to avoid a lockdown.

“This is a tremendous achievement but the pace needs to be increased even further,” Mr Bennett said.

“We must overtake the pandemic and win the race between the immunisation effort and the rate of its spread.”

Israel announced in late July that it would give third shots to people over the age of 60, becoming the first country to widely introduce booster shots to try to control the resurgence of the virus.

New infections have climbed in Israel in recent weeks, with some patients falling ill even after being vaccinated with two Pfizer-BioNTech doses.

The government last week called on employers to work from home and tightened travel restrictions, warning that it may have to impose lockdowns if new cases continue to increase.

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