Israel is already doling out second booster shots to patients who qualify, but on the horizon, a new viral threat is lurking.
Israeli news media like the Jerusalem Post reported this week that three more outbreaks of bird flu have been discovered in chicken coops in Ein HaHoresh in the Hefer Valley, the Ram-On moshav in Gilboa and in Givat Yoav in the Golan Heights.
These areas have been isolated and authorities are actively monitoring additional farms in the area.
In response to concerns about a bird flu outbreak threatening the country's food supply, Agriculture Minister Oded Forer announced that 100M eggs were being delivered to Israel to shore up supplies. Not only will eggs need to be destroyed because of the outbreak, but authorities estimate about 600K hens may need to be destroyed as well to contain the virus.
Farmers are compensated by the government when eggs are destroyed for this reason.
As the government contemplates how to contain the bird flu, Israel's Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg is reportedly planning to cancel the rest of Israel's hunting season to try and prevent the ongoing outbreak of bird flu from being transmitted to humans via so-called "zoonotic transmission" - the same phenomenon that was originally blamed for the first COVID outbreak in Wuhan (before the world learned what was really going on).
Zandberg described the plan as a "necessary step" in stemming the ongoing outbreak.
"The move is intended to prevent the outbreak from continuing and... to keep the hunters healthy from a dangerous and contagious disease, which can be fatal to humans," Zandberg said.
"The high mortality of cranes and other birds found to be infected with the disease indicates a severe and abnormal outbreak, and we must act immediately to minimize the contact between wild birds and humans."
The outbreak of H5N1 bird flu triggered a state of emergency in Israel after multiple cases were detected. On December 25, the discovery of the virus in chicken coops near Margaliot led to the killing of 320,000 hens after 244,000 hens were killed in a separate outbreak earlier that week.
Fears of possible zoonotic transmission involving hunters have already led the Israeli Agriculture Ministry to order farmers to follow directives and ensure their birds are separated from wild birds to avoid infecting the wild birds, and then, by extension, any hunters who encounter the wild birds. The Israeli hunting season typically lasts from September to January, so the hunters would only be missing out on roughly a quarter of the season. Still, that would be a disappointment for anybody who had booked a trip.