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On second thought: Israelis who changed their minds about the vax

Dec 22, 2021

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09:34 AM

We spoke to seven Israelis who initially got partially vaccinated and decided not to continue

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by Rivkah Lambert Adler 

On December 16, 2021, vaccine-free Israeli activist Efrat Fenigson claimed that as much as 33% of the population in Israel, approximately three million people, are not vaccinated at all and only 45%, or four million people, have been jabbed enough times (currently three) to be eligible for the Israeli vaccine passport known as the Green Pass or the Tav Yarok in Hebrew. 
 
We spoke to seven Israelis who initially got partially vaccinated and decided not to continue. It’s a telling indicator of the amount of social and economic pressure being applied that of the seven, six asked for their real names not to be used. Only Howard Kaplan granted permission to use his real name.  
 
These are their stories. 
 
Laura Friedman is a 66 year-old grandmother. Citing initial concerns about the lack of research and her general aversion to taking medications, Friedman said she, “was against the vaccine [and associated] coercion from the start.” Nevertheless, she took the first two shots in May 2021 in response to family pressure. “My son [in the US] told me I would not be allowed to visit them and my little grandsons during my visit there without it. I felt I had no choice because I missed them so much,” she explained.  
 
Since she didn’t return for the booster, she is now ineligible for a vaccine passport. She is resigned to the consequences of that decision. “Now, my Tav Yarok is expired, and no way will I get another. If I have to video chat with them, so be it.” 
 
Beyond the practical ramifications, Friedman is angry with the way the government is handling the vaccine campaign. “My innate sense from the start was that the whole thing just did not feel right. Also, it seemed suspicious that this government that always makes things so hard was suddenly altruistic and making things ridiculously easy, with embarrassing incentives and ad campaigns. Their desperate behavior raised my suspicions as to what type of deal was made with Pfizer.  
 
“Administrative offices regularly require crazy amounts of forms to submit, but on this, which should have required careful medical history, physical and follow-up, there was none. It became obvious to me that this was an issue of monetary profit and control, and not citizen welfare.” 
 
Regarding ongoing governmental and medical coercion, Friedman said, “I feel angry, disgusted, disappointed, frustrated, lied to, manipulated, ineffectual, impotent and sad for the people adversely affected with their livelihood. 
 
“I am not as stupid and compliant as they would like me to be and I am now done. Lock me up if you must, but I’ve had enough,” she adamantly asserted. 
 
Opal Cohen is a 53 year-old single mother who works as a teacher. Before taking the first two shots in April and May of 2021, she initially, “looked into both sides of the issue. I read articles and watched videos sent to me from friends regarding the negative aspects of the vaccines. I spoke with a childhood friend who is a geneticist, and she assured me that the shot was safe. She had no vested interest in the vaccines.   

“I decided to research messenger RNA technology by watching videos presented by doctors with no vested interest in the vaccine. I understood the technology, but was still hesitant. I watched many videos by a doctor named Dr. Zubin Damania, also known as ZDogg.  
 
“I discussed this issue again with my doctor, and he told me that recent studies had shown that the coronavirus could affect the mind. That was my turning point. I have one child left at home, and couldn’t afford to take the risk of something happening to me that would leave my child motherless, or, worse yet, a mother without her mental facilities.” 

Although her immediate reaction to the injection was mild, Cohen reported that, “during the months following the shots, I did feel exhausted and felt that my arthritis had flared and spread. I had trouble with my legs and my body ached much of the time.” She said these symptoms initially passed, but recurred when she caught COVID five months after her second shot. 

Cohen now understands that the vaccine, “is weakening our immune systems. This may be why I can’t get rid of my tooth infection. My immune system has been damaged. Now, with every infection we get, our bodies will get weaker.” 

She doesn’t want to continue getting jabbed. “Because of the adverse reactions after the vaccinations, coupled with the fact that I caught COVID, I didn’t want to get another vaccine or booster.” 

She worries that her need to remain employed may compel her to keep getting boosters to keep the vaccine passport required by her employer. “The vaccine passport has always made me nervous. It’s too much government control. I understand that they may not want an uncontrolled pandemic on their hands, but I feel that the governments have crossed a line.”   
 
Conflicted, Cohen explained, “I willingly accepted my green pass for the simple fact of my work as the sole supporter [of the family]. It was a necessary evil. I need my job.”  

Despite the fact that Penina Klein, 59,  claims to “understand the urgency of at least the initial two vaccines,” she does “not feel that the booster is necessary for those who are in good health. I don't feel that people should be getting a jab every six months. 

“I should have a say in what goes into my body,” she added. “I feel the government is trying to force people to go by their rules, without enough hard evidence about the vaccine and COVID; there are already mutations and some studies are showing that the vaccines are not effective against these mutations.” Further, Klein said she, “feels like the media is often politically motivated and not transparent.” 

She is also opposed to vaccinating children. “I think more research needs to be done and I don't agree with giving the vaccine to healthy children under the age of 18; this age rarely has fatalities and there has not been enough time to study the long term effects,” she shared. 

Although not yet 60, Howard Kaplan, DDS of Zichron Yaakov was so anxious to get vaccinated, he asked for special permission to be allowed before his age group was eligible. His first and only shot, motivated by fear of COVID, was taken on December 30, 2020. “At the time, there was a lot less knowledge about how to treat the disease, and stories of corona deaths were rampant. It was scary,” Kaplan recalled.

He was reassured by “the media and the official government recommendations [that] stated it was perfectly safe for anyone who hasn’t had a previous anaphylactic reaction. I also assumed that there must be a good, comprehensive mechanism in place for tracking adverse incident reports.” Little did he suspect that he would experience adverse reactions so severe, they would stop him from getting another shot. 

“Within the first hour, I developed severe stinging in my eye, like pinpricks. That got progressively worse. Then came some joint and muscle pains, and pain in the injection site, as would be expected. That was followed by neurological symptoms, including peripheral neuropathy (feels like random sharp needle jabs throughout the body), tingling, chills, internal vibrations (feels as if a vibrating cell phone is implanted inside your body), heart palpitations, headaches, severe insomnia (slept only 2-3 hours a night for several months), increasing pain in knees, hips, shoulders, and muscles, and a severe increase of tinnitus (ringing in the ears).” A  year later, Kaplan shared that, “the symptoms have improved, but have not totally resolved.” 

Not only was he surprised to experience such a range of reactions, he was even more shocked by the fact that no one seemed to care.

“I insisted that my kupah (health fund) doctor file an adverse reaction report with the Ministry of Health. I also filed a report with the Ministry on my own, as well as with Pfizer. The Ministry’s reporting system was fairly useless because it only allowed you space to write a few words. There was no follow-up at all from the Ministry or from Pfizer. They have no idea if my symptoms improved, stayed the same or got worse.  

“It’s scary to think that the world was waiting with bated breath to hear Israel’s statistics on side effects of the vaccine, when in reality there was not an effective reporting system in place.”  

Further, Kaplan shared, “I wasn’t able to get any help or direction within the [Israeli medical] system. There is no system or protocol in place to deal with any of this. They won’t even acknowledge that these side effects happen, although there are thousands in Israel and throughout the world who are similarly affected.” 

The burden for dealing with the adverse effects fell completely on him as a private citizen. “I ended up spending thousands of shekels on private medical care. Unfortunately, even the private doctors don’t have good information on how to treat any of this.” 

Kaplan reflected on the larger issues when he said, “Although we are a small minority, there are so many people who have been injured by the vaccines, but feel too intimidated to talk about it. And there’s widespread censorship by social media.  

“Rather than being treated as an injured party, I’m being made to feel like an outcast or a criminal. The media and the government, especially here in Israel, have done their best to try and foment resentment by the vaccinated against the unvaccinated.” 

For 50 year-old Mia Keshet, taking two shots earlier in 2021 was more a way of coping with the stress and pressure she felt than because of any real concern about dying from COVID. She didn’t go back for a booster because she said that she has, “seen enough people [including her husband] get well from corona,” and she “doesn’t feel like I’m high risk.” 

Not being eligible for a vaccine passport used to upset her but she reports that she no longer cares, “I stopped following news. I’m living a happier life!” 

At the same time, Keshet acknowledges that there is something to the government and medical coercion. “They’re sick. It’s all sick. There’s something way more sinister going on.” To that, she takes a philosophical and spiritual approach,  “Hashem (God) is in charge. There’s nothing I can do about it.” 

Yael Neiderberg is a 34 year-old nurse who, as a hospital worker, was double vaxxed in December, 2020, as soon as the shots were available in Israel. Initially, she, “thought it was fantastic to have a vax against COVID. Just like many others, I thought that this couldn't be wrong because vaccines have been around for so long.”

Secondarily, Neiderberg was encouraged by the promised benefits of widespread vaccination, such as reducing quarantine times and “letting people go back to running businesses.” 

Her initial research did not raise any red flags. “I took it the first week, so didn't have much to lean on, but what I did hear and read did not make me doubt whether to take it or not. I had read what the hospital sent out to all workers - what the mRNA vax was, and what the adverse effects were. I checked the CDC website, and basically read the same thing.” 

Soon enough, Neiderberg, “started hearing about a disturbing adverse effect - people suffering from heart palpitations and heart arrhythmias, people who had no heart problems and are young. Then I started hearing they connected it to receiving the shot, mainly after second one. 

By the time the third one came around, I had looked at the government’s handling of the COVID situation - the absurd decisions made, the unnecessary rulings - and decided taking the third shot would be showing support for the preposterous decisions made by the government. At the same time, I was hearing and reading it was medically unnecessary. 

“There is much absurdity in the way things are handled. The whole attitude towards COVID has become an obsession, also around using the masks, and also around if I’m considered vaccinated or not,” she stated. 

Despite the fact that Neiderberg’s serology tests show she has antibodies, she is not eligible for Israel’s vaccine passport because she did not return for the third shot.  

“Being ineligible for a Tav Yarok does infuriate me,” she said, “but I'm doing this as a petition, so I see it as ‘suffering for a good cause’.” 

Since she initially “trusted vaccines and heard that it was ‘safe and effective’ from the mainstream media,” Lily Shilo, age 60, was double vaxxed in December 2020 and January 2021. She experienced a sore arm after each, but no serious adverse effects. 

So why didn’t Shilo return for the booster? 

“[B]y this time, I knew that the vaccine was neither safe nor effective. I personally heard of many long-term adverse reactions including neurological problems, rash with sepsis, heart problems and death. I also knew many vaccinated people that got COVID, including some in my family.” 

By the time Israel was calling for people to get a third jab, Shilo had done her share of research on adverse reactions. In addition, she grew suspicious when, “I saw that early treatment for COVID was being suppressed and not available in Israel and, in the US, was only available by certain doctors.” 

Shilo had strong words to say about the vaccine passport system. “I feel that the green pass has nothing to do with public health, but rather government control. I am choosing not to play in the game and give it validity. I think even if we are ‘fully’ vaccinated, we should not download it or use it. This could be our form of civil disobedience and a way to protest. 

“I am sick about what is going on and where this is leading - tyranny and control. I also feel terrible that young people in school, university, army are being coerced to do something that is not in their best interest or that they don't choose for themselves [because] they cannot get on campus or go to class unless they have the ‘pass’. I worry that if people continue to be complacent, this will not end well.” 

Shilo tried speaking out, but found that her efforts are “falling on deaf ears. I realize that most people are not thinking the same as I am and some even get angry at me for suggesting the possibility that the vaccine is not safe and that the governments may not be doing what is in our best interest. Most people believe the ‘narrative’ as it is strong and powerful and done with intent.” 

Shilo concluded that she is “praying for the truth to prevail.” 

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