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Second vaccination center launched in Zaatari camp

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A view of the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, September 17, 2015. (Photo: NYTimes)
AMMAN — As demand for the COVID-19 vaccine rises, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the International Rescue Committee, has launched a second vaccination center in Zaatari camp. اضافة اعلان

The second center, which opened last week, is a “stand-by” center that can be put to service at any time when demand for the vaccine exceeds the capacity of the first center.

Almost 3,500 refugees in the camp have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to a UNHCR representative; approximately 650 refugees have received both doses. A total of almost 12,000 refugees have registered on the Ministry of Health platform, vaccine.jo, to receive the vaccine.

“At the beginning, the refugees were hesitant to register and take the vaccine,” said the UNHCR representative. But the agency conducted awareness-raising and educational sessions to teach residents about the benefits of the vaccine, and now a “good percentage” have registered.

“I took the vaccine a month ago and so did my father,” said 21-year-old Yousef Harriri, who lives in Zaatari. “I was so happy when I got the message; I even shared it on my social media to encourage people to register and take the vaccine. We must encourage people to take the jab, it is our only way out of this.”

Harriri confirmed that the second facility was opened due to the increasing demand for the vaccine in the camp, where other people often ask him to send the link to register for the shot. He added that he waited two months to receive the vaccine, and the process was “easy.”

The camp, which is the largest camp for Syrian refugees in the world, has not been immune to the pandemic. According to UNHCR, to date, almost 2,000 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Zaatari and there are currently almost 95 active cases in the camp. Active cases are isolated within a designated area in the camp. The first case of the virus in the camp was reported in September 2020.

“The turnout is excellent,” said Iyad Shtayiat from UNHCR’s Public Health Unit in a promotional video for the new center. “We hope that in the upcoming period, we will be able as much as possible to vaccinate the largest number of refugees, to protect ourselves and the community from the scourge of this virus.”

“Today we cooperated with UNHCR to open the vaccination center for Syrian refugees inside the Zaatari camp. With this step, we have given all refugees the chance to receive the vaccine and get over this pandemic,” said Kholoud Alqamsa, a member of Zaatari’s health staff, in the same video.

The announcement comes as cases in the Kingdom are currently dropping after weeks of high positivity rates, hospitalizations, and deaths. On Saturday, the country recorded only 1,259 new cases of the virus.

Jordan has been lauded for being among the first countries to actively begin vaccinating refugees. On January 14, UNHCR reported the first UNHCR-registered refugee had been vaccinated, an Iraqi refugee who received his jab in Irbid.


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