Jordan: first refugees vaccinated at Zaatari camp

Amman launched its coronavirus vaccine programme last month

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People living in northern Jordan’s sprawling Zaatari became the first refugees inside a camp to receive a coronavirus vaccine, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on Monday.

Jordanian authorities vaccinated 58 Syrians at the camp, one of the largest in the world.

The UNHCR said it was the first vaccination in the world at a UN-administered refugee camp.

“The Jordanian Health Ministry is overseeing the process at Zaatari,” a spokesman for the commissioner said.

He said the Syrians who received the vaccine on Monday had registered on an online platform set up by the Jordanian government and open to all residents of the country.

Authorities say registrations have been slow, with 200,000 people booking appointments so far.

Jordan started distributing Covid-19 vaccines last month with the aim of vaccinating a fifth of the country’s 10 million population.

On January 16, an Iraqi in the northern city of Irbid became the first refugee in Jordan to receive a vaccine.

About 10 per cent of Jordan's population are refugees. Among them are 662,000 Syrians registered with the UNHCR and 65,000 Iraqis.

Zaatari has 75,000 Syrian refugees. Another 37,000 live at Al Azraq camp in Jordan’s eastern desert.

The rest of the Syrian refugees are mostly in Irbid, Amman and other urban centres.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said last month that Jordan had set an example of how tackling the coronavirus “should be done if we are to keep everyone safe”.

Jordanian government data shows 4,455 deaths from the pandemic and almost 350,000 infections, mostly registered since October last year.

The number of infections in the kingdom is thought to be much higher, with 20 per cent of Jordan’s population estimated to have caught the coronavirus.