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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 8 March 2021

Coronavirus: health minister urges Jordanians to register for vaccine

Government expects to start administering Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines next month after buying one million doses

Jordanians wearing protective masks walk at a street of downtown Amman, Jordan. EPA
Jordanians wearing protective masks walk at a street of downtown Amman, Jordan. EPA

Jordanian heath officials urged people to register for coronavirus vaccination, which they expect to start next month.

Health Minister Nizar Obeidat said the government’s initial target was to inoculate 20 to 25 per cent of Jordan’s 10 million population.

He said the vaccines “will be optional and effective”.

“Take the initiative and register,” he said on Twitter this week.

Another heath official said 140,000 people had registered so far for the vaccine on an online portal.

The website said that appointments to take the vaccine will be scheduled “according to need, priority and equitable distribution”.

The pandemic, and vaccinations in particular, have become an increasingly sensitive issue in Jordan after coronavirus deaths rose sharply since late October.

After holding parliamentary elections in November amid the surge in infections authorities reimposed a curfew.

Jordanian journalist Jamal Haddad was released by security forces this month after his arrest for reporting on a local website that senior officials have been receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Authorities have made it clear that they do not intend to inoculate the whole of the population. They contracted US pharmaceutical company Pfizer to buy one million doses of its vaccine at the end of last year.

They are hoping for another two million doses to come largely for free from the World Health Organisation, with Jordan slated to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine through the UN organisation.

But the UN programme under which Jordan is supposed to receive the two million doses, called Covax, has run into funding problems.

The latest official data shows that 304,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus in Jordan and that almost 4,000 died.

Mr Obeidat said “rumours about the coronavirus vaccine hamper the efforts to confront it."

“There is an improvement in the pandemic situation,” Mr Obeidat said, pointing to a decline in the rate of new infections and deaths in Jordan.

He said the government is aiming to buy another million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech.

“We are still in the middle of the battle," he said. "The big challenge in the coming weeks will be the vaccination programme.”

Updated: January 10, 2021 01:31 PM

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