The Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip launched its coronavirus vaccination campaign on Monday after the first doses arrived in the clogged coastal area.
Former health ministers and several medical workers were inoculated with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine in front of dozens of cameras. More health sector personnel and patients with chronic diseases will be receiving the injection on Tuesday.
The vaccination campaign “will generate more immunity among the population and will further contain the spread of the pandemic,” said the spokesman for the Ministry of Health, Ashraf al-Qedra.
The area has received just 22,000 doses of vaccines, a small fraction of what is required to immunize the roughly two million residents of the strip, including some 1.4 million people over the age of 18.
Vaccine shortages in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are in stark contrast to the situation in Israel, which is poised to immunize almost its entire adult population in the coming weeks. Beforehand, about a third of the approximately 9.3 million people living in Israel have received two doses of the Pfizer / BionTech vaccine. The disparity has drawn attention to the global inequity of vaccine distribution between rich and poor nations.
United Nations officials and human rights groups have voiced concerns about the disparities and point out that Israel, as an invading power, has an obligation to help the Palestinians.