Lebanon Completes Preparations to Start COVID-19 Vaccinations

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Lebanese Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan announced Tuesday that there was no obstacle to starting coronavirus vaccinations early next week.

“All the necessary technical and logistical matters have been secured through a group of donors,” he said at the Marjayoun Governmental Hospital, as part of a tour to the districts of Jezzine, Marjayoun and Bint Jbeil in south Lebanon.

Hassan also deemed that allocating vaccination centers at public hospitals reflects confidence and support to the institutions. “We ought to encourage any hospital for taking the initiative to open a section for coronavirus patients and volunteer to serve its people,” he said.

Lebanon is expecting its first delivery of two million Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine doses on Saturday, with priority for inoculations to be given to medical personnel and people aged over 75.

Firass Abiad, General Manager of the Rafik Hariri University Hospital, tweeted Tuesday that despite high numbers of daily deaths, vaccine hesitancy in Lebanon is still strong.

According to Abiad, there are some early worrying signs about the vaccination drive.

“Time is running out. Anything short of a well-organized campaign will further erode the public trust and derail the whole process,” he wrote.

The country began last Monday to gradually reopen following weeks of lockdown after a surge in cases due to lax restrictions over the holiday period in December and early January. A 24-hour curfew is still in place.

Abiad said vaccines can help in preventing transmission. However, “we will still need to take precautions till the prevalence of the disease is very low.”

The Health Ministry announced Tuesday 2,879 new coronavirus cases, raising the total number of infections to 324,859.

It also indicated that 60 deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours.

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