Bethlehem on the West Bank — Since the first appearance of the coronavirus on the occupied West Bank, Suhagadeon has been enthusiastic about wearing masks, avoiding confusion with friends and refusing to attend family hosts and rallies. bottom.
However, Gadeon, 41, a member director of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, refused to receive the Covid-19 vaccine because he was worried about side effects such as blood clots, heart complications, and hair loss. Although some harmful side effects have been found, they are very rare and health experts say the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.
“I’m strongly against vaccination now,” she said. “It’s only when three to five years of research prove that it’s safe to get, I’m comfortable.”
For months, Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the blocked Gaza Strip struggled to inoculate residents for vaccines.
Currently, they receive millions of doses, but they face new challenges. It’s about persuading the majority of people to take shots.
Shady Al Riham, Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Health in the Bethlehem district, said: “They are important to help us get through the pandemic.”
The number of new cases of the virus in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has increased significantly over the past week, reaching 868 on Thursday and 1,021 in Gaza on Friday. Hospitalizations in both regions have nearly tripled in the last two weeks.
But only 37 percent of eligible West Bank residents According to health authorities in two regions, they have been vaccinated at least once, about 18 percent in Gaza.
According to Abdulsalam al-Kayat, director of public health at Naja University School of Medicine in Nablas, disinformation and conspiracy theories are about being vaccinated with more grounded concerns about reduced vaccine efficacy. It contributes to a wide range of hesitation. West bank.
“Many people simply don’t receive reliable information about vaccines,” he said.
Bethlehem, where the first confirmed case of Covid-19 was found in a Palestinian city on the west bank of the Jordan River, may have been the most damaged. In addition to killing at least 258 people in the area, the virus has devastated the tourism industry in cities where Christians believe that Jesus Christ was born. Hotels and restaurants were closed and tour guides were absent from work.
But in the bustling open-air markets of the old town, many fruit and vegetable sellers spoke as loudly as they were about their skepticism about vaccines when selling their produce.
“I read online that people would die two years after vaccination,” said 53-year-old Issa Abu Huuleil, citing unfounded rumors that she sold watermelons to customers. “So I decided not to take the vaccine. Why do I endanger it? My health is excellent.”
Last week, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, an Islamic extremist group that governs Gaza, ordered civil servants to be vaccinated to improve compliance.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Steier has announced a decision that refusing vaccination is “not a matter of personal liberty.” “Your freedom ends when it harms the health of others.”
Officials said unvaccinated public sector employees would be on unpaid leave until the end of the pandemic. The government is the largest employer on the West Bank, and Palestinian officials said the number of vaccinations has increased significantly recently after the government’s orders came into effect.
In Gaza, all civil servants must be vaccinated or face legal action, said Ashraf Al Kidra, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health. Also, people in the private sector who continue to work and have direct contact with the general public need to be vaccinated if they want to continue working, Archidra said.
Human rights advocates could instead introduce incentives such as additional leave for vaccination, or allow employees who refuse vaccination to continue working on conditions that are regularly tested. He expressed his reservation on the rigor of the measures.
Ammer Dwyk, chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, an organization founded by the Palestinian Authority, said: “But I think the authorities could consider more alternatives here,” he added.
Vaccine hesitation is the latest obstacle to the Palestinian winding battle against pandemics. Most of the year, Palestinians had few vaccines, so Israel did not protect Palestinians under its occupation while implementing a world-leading vaccination program for Israeli citizens. It led to severe criticism.
Understand Vaccine and Mask Obligations in the United States
- Vaccine rules.. On August 23, the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval of Pfizer BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people over the age of 16 paving the way for increased obligations in both the public and private sectors. rice field. Private companies are increasingly obliging their employees to vaccinate. Such obligations are legally permitted and are upheld in court opposition.
- Mask rule.. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July masked indoor public places in areas where outbreaks are occurring, which is the opposite of the guidance provided in May by all Americans, regardless of vaccination status. It was recommended to wear. Find out where the CDC guidance applies and where the state has developed its own mask policy. In some states, the mask dispute is controversial, and some local leaders oppose the state’s ban.
- University. More than 400 universities require students to be vaccinated with Covid-19. Almost all are in the states that voted for President Biden.
- school.. Both California and New York City have introduced vaccine obligations to their education staff. According to a survey released in August, many American parents with school-age children oppose the vaccines required for their students, but mask obligations for students, teachers, and staff who do not have shots. Was in favor of.
- Hospitals and medical centers.. Many hospitals and major healthcare systems require employees to be vaccinated with the Covid-19 vaccine. This is due to the increased number of cases due to the delta variant and the low stubborn vaccination rate in the community, even within employees.
- New York City.. Indoor meals, gymnasiums, performances and other indoor situations require proof of vaccination for workers and customers, but enforcement will not begin until September 13. Teachers and other educational workers in the city’s vast school system must be vaccinated with at least one vaccine. Administered by September 27, without weekly test options. Municipal hospital workers also need to be vaccinated or have weekly tests. Employees in New York have similar rules.
- At the federal level. The Pentagon has announced that it will mandate coronavirus vaccination of 1.3 million active troops in the country by mid-September. President Biden has announced that all private federal personnel must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or subject to regular inspections, social distances, mask requirements, and most travel restrictions.
However, much of the doses given by the Palestinian Authority have been sucked up by the ruling seniors, media allies, and even the families of top-notch officials. Last spring, Israel vaccinated more than 100,000 Palestinians working in Israel, but not the West Bank and millions of other Palestinians in Gaza.
And when Israel finally offered more than a million authorities …