Access to vaccines is an essential part of the global response to COVID-19. In Lebanon, the pandemic has exacerbated the country’s already struggling healthcare system and pushed many people to the brink in a period of major economic crisis.
Following an agreement with the Ministry of Public Health, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) started vaccinating elderly people and medical personnel in nursing homes in Lebanon against COVID-19 on March 19.
In the first week, 1,050 people were vaccinated by MSF mobile teams.
“Elderly people and healthcare workers are among the most at risk and were therefore identified as one of the priority population groups to be vaccinated,” says Julien Raickman, MSF head of mission in Lebanon.
“We welcome the efforts of the Lebanese authorities to guarantee access to vaccination for all people in Lebanon without any discrimination.”
Since some elderly people were not able to easily access vaccination centres, MSF set up mobile vaccination teams to reach them where they were. The vaccines were supplied by the health authorities.
On one particular day, three MSF teams went to the Hôpital Psychiatrique de La Croix in Mount Lebanon area, one of the biggest elderly homes in Lebanon.
“We carefully [explained] the reasons for vaccination and the process,” says Tania Hachem, MSF medical coordinator. “The interaction with patients and staff was very powerful. In the space of one day, we vaccinated nearly 400 people.”