RAMALLAH and GAZA CITY, 21 March 2021 – On 17 March, the State of Palestine received the first shipment of 37,440 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and 24,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine from COVAX facility as part of the first wave allocation. These vaccine doses were transferred to the Ministry of Health’s ultra-cold chain and vaccine storage facilities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Further consignments of COVAX vaccine doses are planned for the State of Palestine to cover 20 per cent of the population – approximately 1 million people. As with the current consignments, these doses are for both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, according to the prioritization criteria of the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan.
COVAX is a global facility representing partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO), Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) working on the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. It includes 190 countries with a total population of more than 7 billion people and ensures fair and equal access to COVID-19 vaccines supplied through UNICEF. WHO and UNICEF are supporting the Government of the State of Palestine’s national vaccination campaign.
Dr Ayadil Saparbekov, acting WHO Head of Office for West Bank and Gaza said: “WHO welcomes the opportunity to be able to help Palestinians fight the Corona virus with this important delivery of vaccines aimed initially at frontline healthcare workers. People in both the West Bank and Gaza desperately need these vaccines, which is an effective tool in the fight against COVID-19, in addition to the public health measures already in place. We’re proud to play our part in the global COVAX initiative, alongside our partners, as it helps to fill the gaps where vaccines are needed and in short supply. Today’s delivery can give Palestinians a sense of hope that life can return to normal.”
“We have been battling COVID-19 for one year now. These vaccine doses provide us with another tool in fighting the spread of this virus – a critical tool. Nevertheless, it is critical that, alongside the vaccination of the frontline health workers and vulnerable groups, we also continue to reinforce public health measures such as correctly using masks, handwashing, and physical distancing. This vaccine will help return the Gaza Strip and the West Bank closer to normal daily life. Children in the State of Palestine have endured much this last year. It is a privilege for UNICEF to support the Ministry of Health and our partners to ensure equity of vaccine delivery to both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, starting with health care workers and the most vulnerable groups,” said Lucia Elmi, UNICEF Special Representative to the State of Palestine.