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Conspiracy Theories, Fake News Hamper Efforts to Vaccinate Palestinians in East Jerusalem (with VIDEO)

Conspiracy Theories, Fake News Hamper Efforts to Vaccinate Palestinians in East Jerusalem (with VIDEO)

Health care staff doing their best to convince residents to take the jab

The campaign to vaccinate East Jerusalem is slowly gathering speed, but so far the novel coronavirus’ spread is outpacing the inoculation drive.

Only about 20% of Palestinians living in Jerusalem above the age of 60 have received the coronavirus vaccine, according to the Israeli military’s Home Front Command.

In contrast, more than 60% of Israelis aged 60 and up have done so.

Dr. Ali Jibrini, a member of the Coronavirus Combat Unit in the Israeli Health Ministry, told The Media Line that turnout among Palestinian residents of the city has been low.

“Today, only 60 people were vaccinated at this main central clinic; we were hoping for a lot more. The elderly and people with chronic diseases are the priority,” the physician said.

East Jerusalem has seen a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections among Palestinian residents, and hospitals are operating at full capacity.

The government inoculation program is in full swing, but few people are arriving at the vaccination stations in the city’s Arab sector. Many remain skeptical about getting inoculated.

Ola, a pharmacist, told The Media Line that the entire medical team where she works was vaccinated.

“At first I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of getting the vaccine, but after all my colleagues received it, I felt much better and I knew it would protect all of us,” she said.

Her family was not enthusiastic about her decision, Ola said. “They asked me to wait because not enough tests have been performed on the vaccine.”

Conspiracy theories are running rampant among Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents, that “the vaccine is dangerous.”

“It takes years for vaccines to be tested before they are produced. Why is this one any different?” asked Mahmoud Alyan of the well-off northeastern Beit Hanina neighborhood.

Jibrini said his team is working day and night to persuade people to take the vaccine.

“We struggle to convince people. Many don’t believe that the coronavirus exists. [The claims of] fake news and that the coronavirus is part of a conspiracy dissuade people from getting vaccinated.”

Rashida Abdeen just received her first of two shots. Her doctor helped her with her decision.

“I took the vaccination because it gives me more protection. I relied on the advice and words of my doctor for reassurance,” she said.

Her husband, Ghassan, who accompanied her to the vaccination center, encourages everyone to get inoculated.

“I am over 60 years old and have diabetes, so in my case, I need the vaccine,” he said.

Health officials hope to have nearly everyone immunized by sometime in March, but if so many people continue to refuse to accept vaccination, that may be a tall order.

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