Palestinian amputees play soccer during a local championship arranged by the International Committee of the Red Cross, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, in Gaza City, Thursday, March 18.
Just 8,500 people have turned out to be vaccinated in Gaza, according to an official, even though the territory of 2 million people has received about 83,300 vaccine doses since February donated by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and the global COVAX program.
Suspicion of the vaccines runs deep in Hamas Islamist-run Gaza, which has registered more than 57,000 coronavirus infections and 572 deaths. It recently relaxed lockdown restrictions.
Some people fear possible side-effects from the jab and are sharing their misgivings widely on social media.
Millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered around the world.
Echoing global scientific and health experts, Majdi Dhair, Gaza’s deputy director of prime health care, said the vaccines are safe.
Both the West Bank and Gaza lag far behind Israel, which has been a world leader in its vaccination rollout.