TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Pizza, hummus, pastry and a cup of coffee were on the menu on Tuesday to entice Israelis to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.
In cooperation with local restaurants, Tel Aviv offered the food at two pop-up vaccination centres, hoping to persuade inoculation holdouts to take a shot.
Although Israel is leading the world in the speed of its vaccination drive, authorities are still concerned that younger people less prone to dangerous coronavirus complications, and others jittery about inoculation will not get their jabs.
So it was free pizza, hummus and knafeh, a sweet Middle Eastern dessert made with filo pastry, for all. And dozens of people showed up.
"We came to get vaccinated, until now we were worried but because of the upcoming restrictions (against people who don't vaccinate) there was not much choice, and it's also very nice to get a pizza and a coffee," said Lizi Kritzer, a 32-year-old municipality worker.
Israel plans to ease more restrictions on businesses on Sunday and reopen hotels and gyms to those fully vaccinated or deemed immune after recovering from COVID-19.
With nearly 43% of citizens having received at least one shot of Pfizer Inc's vaccine, Israel has moved ahead with a gradual relaxing of lockdown measures imposed on Dec. 27.
Its ambitious vaccination drive has made it the largest real-world study of Pfizer's vaccine. The country's largest healthcare provider has reported a 94% drop in symptomatic COVID-19 cases among 600,000 people who received both doses.
Eytan Schwartz, a spokesman for the Tel Aviv municipality, said the city hoped the food and drink offered at the vaccination stations in two community centres would create a "family-like atmosphere" to attract the hesitant.
"I came today to get vaccinated and I tell everyone to come and get the shot so that we can keep our health better," Iman Dasui, a 60-year-old teacher said. "There is also knafeh here ... very tasty."
(Reporting by Rami Amichay; Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Marguerita Choy)