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Israeli PM joins world leaders getting COVID-19 vaccine

Israeli PM joins world leaders getting COVID-19 vaccine

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was vaccinated against the coronavirus on live television Saturday, becoming the first Israeli and one of the world's leaders to be inoculated.

Israel is set to begin vaccinating its health workers and nursing home residents beginning Sunday. Netanyahu said he wanted to be the country's first recipient to set a “personal example” and to encourage Israelis to get the shot.

“I believe in this vaccine,” he said before receiving the injection of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv. Netanyahu rolled up the right sleeve of his black, short-sleeve shirt and waited for several minutes before receiving the injection. He called it an “exciting moment” that put Israel on the path to returning to its normal routines.

The event also gave Netanyahu a political boost as the country appears to be heading to its fourth election in just two years.

Netanyahu's coalition government with his rival, Benny Gantz, has been plagued by paralysis and dysfunction since taking office in May and will automatically collapse on Tuesday if it cannot get a budget passed. That would trigger a new election three months from now.

Netanyahu planned to hold a news conference later Saturday after a half-hour period to monitor him for possible allergic reactions to the vaccine.