Israel’s travel policy doesn’t view vaccinated passengers as higher risk

30 July 2021
What was claimed

Israel has banned the entry of vaccinated tourists.

Our verdict

Israel has postponed plans to relax restrictions on vaccinated foreign tourists, who it considers to be less of a risk than unvaccinated tourists. Vaccinated tourists are not subject to more restrictions than unvaccinated tourists.

What was claimed

New data from Israel shows the vaccinated account for nearly all serious cases and deaths.

Our verdict

We haven’t been able to find the data from Israel. In the UK, many serious cases and deaths are among vaccinated people. However, this is because the vast majority of the population is vaccinated and vaccines aren’t 100% effective. Vaccinated people have a much lower risk of hospitalisation and death than unvaccinated people.

Israel recently postponed its plan to allow vaccinated tourists to enter the country from 1 August in an easing of coronavirus restrictions. 

This news has been shared on Facebook alongside the claim that vaccinated people account for nearly all serious cases and deaths from Covid-19. 

The suggestion is that vaccinated people are more of a risk than unvaccinated people, and the post could imply that vaccinated travellers are not being let in, but unvaccinated travellers are. Neither of these things is true.

Israel is currently only allowing foreign nationals, vaccinated or unvaccinated, to visit under specific circumstances, including those travelling as part of pre-approved group holidays, and those visiting a close family member. Travellers must receive approval before trying to enter Israel.

It had explored the possibility of relaxing restrictions for vaccinated travellers, considered lower risk than unvaccinated travellers, but has postponed these plans, citing the spread of the Delta variant.  

We haven’t been able to locate the Israeli data referred to, which the post claims shows that vaccinated people make up “nearly all” serious cases and deaths from Covid-19. Israel’s coronavirus data dashboard doesn’t split out deaths by vaccination status. 

But, in England, of the 460 people who died within 28 days of infection with the Delta variant between 1 February and 19 July, 165 had not been vaccinated, and 289 had received at least one dose (vaccination status wasn’t available for the remaining six). 

However, this doesn’t mean vaccinated people are more at risk. It just means that the majority of people, including the vast majority of the most vulnerable have been vaccinated. Because vaccines are not 100% effective, the number of deaths among vaccinated people could be higher than among unvaccinated people, even though they are at less risk.

You could, similarly, note that most people who die in car crashes were wearing their seatbelts. This is not because seatbelts are harmful, but because the vast majority of passengers wear seatbelts. 

The risk of dying in a car accident is much lower if you are wearing your seatbelt than if you are not. The risk of dying of Covid-19 is much lower if you are vaccinated than if you are not. 

As for “serious cases”, on 19 July, the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said that 60% of hospitalisations from Covid-19 were amongst unvaccinated people.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as missing context because Israel also restricts entry from unvaccinated travellers, and the reason why most serious cases and deaths are in vaccinated people are because there are so many more of them, not because vaccines put people at greater risk.

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