ERBIL, Kurdistan Region —The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) expects to begin vaccinating the public with its newly received 43,000 doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines on Monday, according to a health official.
On Friday, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani announced the arrival of new doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Baghdad.
“15,800 vaccines will be sent to Erbil province, 16,500 to both Sulaimani and Halabja provinces and 11,500 to Duhok,” deputy director of health Rahel Faridun told Rudaw on Saturday of the new batch.
Some European countries have suspended use of the Oxford-developed AstraZeneca vaccine over blood clot fears. The World Health Organization (WHO) and European regulators have, however, said there is no evidence the vaccine causes adverse effects.
“Sulaimani received 500 vaccines from the previous batch and it was mostly distributed among health workers,” Hersh Said Salim, deputy head of Sulaimani’s health directorate, told Rudaw’s Snur Majeed on Saturday. Halabja, Garmiyan and Raparin will receive the vaccines too, he added.
“95% of the COVID-19 cases in Sulaimani are of the UK variant. The prevention measurements are the same, the only difference is that this variant spreads faster than the previous one,” he said. “Positive cases of the new variant were detected in the city by the end of 2020.”
The vaccines will be administered according to the group-based rollout plan. First priority to receive the jab is healthcare workers, followed by security forces, the elderly, and the chronically ill.
“We will not buy any vaccines the World Health Organization (WHO) hasn’t approved of,” said Aram Rostam, Head of Vaccination Committee, adding that the KRG is working on acquiring more vaccines directly from suppliers.
Online portals for vaccine registration have been launched by Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. They prioritize who needs to get the vaccine first based on the entered data.
According to the head of Erbil’s health department Dlovan Muhammad, 67 infected people are receiving treatment at Erbil’s hospitals and 32 are in the intensive care units, confirming that the rate of infection has increased to over 10% in the city over the last month and a half.
The Kurdistan Region is seeing a second wave of the coronavirus, recording a steady increase in daily new infections since mid-February.
The region has recorded 118,554 cases and 3,632 deaths since the start of the pandemic.