Half of Jordanians over 60 still unvaccinated

Rumors fuel vaccination hesitancy among the most vulnerable

(Photo: Unsplash)
(Photo: Unsplash)
AMMAN – The vaccination campaign in Jordan has been unfurling steadily, with over 3 million registered on the online vaccine platform, vaccine.jo. Still, half of Jordanians over 60 — a group at increased risk for severe illness from the COVID-19 — have not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine.اضافة اعلان

Jordanians above 60 who decided against inoculation told Jordan News that they harbor concerns over possible consequences of the vaccine.

Suad Shaker, 61, said in a phone interview with Jordan News that, in 2017, she fell sick and experienced symptoms identical to those of COVID-19, and that, when she took medication, she recovered.

“I think that the issue of COVID-19 has been overdramatized. Plus, COVID-19 vaccines have not gone through proper testing, and the information we receive from media outlets about their different symptoms is always contradictory,” said Shaker.

Another 65-year-old Jordanian, who spoke to Jordan News on condition of anonymity, said that COVID-19 is part of a worldwide conspiracy theory, and that the vaccine is “nothing but a constituent of the plan.”

“Why would I have a foreign substance injected in my body?” he said.

Alternatively, Ibrahim Bdour, former MP member of the board of trustees at the National Center for Human Rights, told Jordan News over the phone that vaccine hesitancy comes from a false sense that Jordan has overcome the pandemic.

“Their massive aversion to vaccination is a result of a mistaken and false feeling that the country has overcome the dangerous phase, given the opening of sectors,” he contended.

“Out of the 3,300,000 registered on the COVID-19 vaccination platform, only 2,600,000 have received vaccination. The remaining 700,000 have been contacted but never showed up,” he said. “This has led to a difficulty in increasing the number of people registered on the platform.”

He said that people’s preferences for certain types of vaccinations have also stood in the way of the Kingdom’s vaccination plan.

“Some stations get overcrowded when the Pfizer vaccine is available, amounting to some 111,000 people a day. However, on the days when the Sinopharm vaccine is offered, the number drops dramatically to 30,000,” Bdour said. The Sinopharm vaccine has not yet been approved by the European Union or Saudi Arabia, which may create challenges for Jordanians traveling to those locations.

“Yesterday, only 4,200 Jordanians took the first shot of the Sinopharm vaccine,” said Bdour, stressing that older groups make up the highest percentage of COVID-19 deaths and hospital and ICU admissions.

“50% of people above 60 have not received the vaccine. This constitutes a major problem given that 18% of the COVID-19 positive elderly people pass away.”

When the vaccination platform was first launched, less than million Jordanians registered, 40% of whom did not show up to their vaccination appointments. Slowly, however, Jordanians’ vaccination hesitancy began to subside — but there is still much to be done before the country reaches herd immunity.

Bdour proposed making the COVID-19 vaccine a prerequisite to resuming business activities, which raised the number of people who registered, especially in the private sector.

“This has indirectly forced people to take the two doses in order to get back to their workplaces,” he said. “But now, we need another solution as people have stopped registering.”

He called on the government to come up with new recommendations that push for inoculation.

“More restrictions should be imposed on the public sector; Only vaccinated employees should be allowed to resume their work at the office,” Bdour said.

As for the elderly, who are either retired or receiving incomes from a social insurance fund or the National Aid Fund, Bdour suggested raising their monthly entitlements by 10 to 15% upon taking both vaccines.

On his part, Mohannad Al-Nsour, member of the National Epidemiological Committee and executive director of the Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network, said that the reason why people over 60 are not taking the vaccine is still unknown.

“We need to better understand this situation to find out why they have not gotten vaccinated,” he said.

He added that the Ministry of Health, supported by the government, will designate spaces within comprehensive primary health care centers to facilitate access to COVID-19 vaccination facilities.

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