Vaccination drive picks up in Palestine amid mandatory jabs

By Pablo Duer

Ramallah, Palestine, 7 Oct (EFE).- The Covid vaccination drive has picked up speed in Palestinian after the government made inoculations compulsory amid widespread misinformation and a reluctant population.

As people trickle into the vaccination center in the West Bank’s Ramallah Hospital, the most striking thing isn’t the absence of face masks but the fact most people waiting are hesitant about getting jabbed.

“I don’t believe in the vaccine, but my employer has forced me. If I don’t get vaccinated, I’ll lose my job, and I can’t afford it,” Husmi, a Palestinian public television cameraman, tells Efe as he leaves the clinic worrying about the possible side effects the vaccine may provoke.

Since late August, all civil servants, students over 15 years of age and workers in the health and education sectors must prove they have been inoculated to keep their jobs.

Social networks have been flooded with conspiracy theories and false rumors over how the vaccine can damage fertility and even affect people’s personalities. In response, the government has launched measures enforcing vaccinations and campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of getting immunized.

Since the measures were announced on 23 August, the number of people that have been fully vaccinated in the West Bank has increased from 370,000 to over 865,000.

In Gaza, the number has quadrupled from 70,000 to almost 300,000.

Despite these efforts, vast segments of the population are yet to get vaccinated given almost 3 million Palestinians are living in the West Bank, just over 2 million in Gaza.

Over the course of an hour, a dozen people get a covid jab in a dermatology unit which has become a makeshift vaccination center where Husmi received his first dose.

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