Gaza launches vaccination drive amid low turnout

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Feb 28, 2021

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The first part of the coronavirus vaccination marketing campaign kicked off within the Gaza Strip on Feb. 22. Two shipments of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine arrived — the first donated by Russia to the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the second by the United Arab Emirates to the Gaza Strip instantly.

The marketing campaign started with the vaccination of 15 officers from the Ministry of Health and a few medical personnel. The course of was closely coated by varied media retailers, with the purpose of encouraging the inhabitants to get vaccinated. Only about 10,000 individuals registered to obtain the vaccine within the first part, out of 1.2 million residents within the Gaza Strip who want it.

Overall, 22,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccines reached the Gaza Strip, ample for 11,000 residents, on the price of two separate doses for every citizen. Spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Health within the Gaza Strip Ashraf Al-Qudra instructed Al-Monitor that not one of the 15 first recipients, together with himself, confirmed any unintended effects after getting their pictures.

Qudra defined that 1.2 million residents within the Gaza Strip are eligible to obtain the vaccine as they’re over the age of 18, in keeping with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) protocol relating to the coronavirus vaccination. “Priority now is for the medical personnel, which includes around 16,000 persons in hospitals and health centers in the Gaza Strip,” he stated. “Around 150,000 persons with [chronic] diseases in the Gaza Strip also need the vaccine.”

He identified that the Ministry of Health, in cooperation with the UNRWA, started vaccinating at two well being facilities within the south of Gaza and in Gaza City.

Abdel Nasser Soboh, the director of the WHO’s workplace within the Gaza Strip, instructed Al-Monitor on the sidelines of the launch of the vaccination marketing campaign that the PA will obtain within the coming days greater than 37,000 new doses of vaccines. “The Gaza Strip will be getting 11,200 doses,” he stated.

The surge within the variety of coronavirus infections in latest months put the well being system within the Gaza Strip below nice strain, bringing it to the snapping point.

Government authorities rushed to impose stringent preventive measures, together with curfews and the closure of public locations akin to eating places, marriage ceremony halls, sports activities golf equipment and others.

In mild of the relative success of those measures, the Gaza Strip has been registering a drop within the variety of circumstances (between 100 and 200 circumstances per day) for 2 weeks now. This drove expectations that the epidemic might be largely managed within the coming months, with the provision of extra vaccines and the vaccination of the inhabitants.

Since the outbreak of the virus within the Gaza Strip in March 2020, the enclave recorded greater than 54,000 circumstances, with 52,000 recovered and 545 useless, most of them aged and folks with power illnesses.

Director of the Infection Control Department on the Ministry of Health Rami Al-Abadleh, who obtained the vaccine within the first batch, instructed Al-Monitor he didn’t really feel any unintended effects. He urged residents to register through the Health Ministry’s on-line platform.

Abadleh stated that in keeping with the WHO’s protocol, each particular person 18 years of age and over must obtain the vaccine to amass further immunity towards the virus.

The few numbers — 10,000 up to now — that have been registered with the Ministry of Health to obtain the vaccine are as a result of issues over issues by the lately manufactured vaccine. Citizens additionally fear counterfeit vaccines which have begun to unfold in some international locations world wide.

Naji Audi, 38, from the northern Gaza Strip, is afraid of taking the vaccine. He instructed Al-Monitor, “I caught the virus last December. But I am afraid of the vaccine. It is new, and to this date, more tests are being conducted and modifications are being introduced to it. I am afraid that my body will not tolerate it and it would have severe side effects.”

Shadi Shatat, 58, who lives in Gaza City, shared Audi’s skepticism. He had learn on the web about some unintended effects of the Russian vaccine, which embody joint ache, excessive temperature and headache. “I have arthritis. I do not need additional pain,” he instructed Al-Monitor.

The entry of vaccines into the Gaza Strip got here regardless of Israeli difficulties and obstacles. On Feb. 15, Palestinian Minister of Health in Ramallah Mai al-Kaila accused Israel of stopping the entry of those vaccines into the Gaza Strip via the Beit Hanoun/Erez crossing within the northern Gaza Strip. This prompted Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to threaten navy escalation towards Israel. On Feb. 17, Israel allowed the entry of the vaccines.

Under strain by the households of Israeli troopers detained within the Gaza Strip, the Israeli authorities had banned the entry of the vaccine. These households demanded their authorities strain Hamas to launch the troopers they’ve captured since 2014 — who’re believed to be useless — in trade for the introduction of vaccines.

The Ministry of Health within the Gaza Strip expects the numbers of those that will register for the vaccine to extend within the coming days and weeks. The ministry is organizing well being consciousness campaigns to encourage extra folks to get vaccinated, within the hope that every one residents might be vaccinated earlier than the tip of June.

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