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No more COVID jabs in parliament, says Lebanon's deputy speaker after scandal

by Timour Azhari | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 12 March 2021 17:30 GMT

Lebanon's caretaker health minister Hamad Hasan administers a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to a woman, at Rafik Hariri University Hospital, in Beirut, Lebanon February 14, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

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About a dozen parliamentarians were vaccinated in the house last month despite not being in a top priority group

By Timour Azhari

BEIRUT, March 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Lawmakers will get their COVID-19 vaccinations in hospital like everyone else from now on, the deputy speaker of Lebanon's parliament said on Friday following a scandal over MPs receiving early jabs in the legislature.

About a dozen parliamentarians were vaccinated last month despite not being in a top priority group - sparking outrage in a country reeling from the impact of the pandemic and a financial meltdown.

Deputy Speaker Elie Ferzli, who was among the vaccinated lawmakers, said they would not be getting their second doses in parliament.

"We will do it in accordance with the important directive concerning the hospitals," Ferzli, who is in his early 70s, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The World Bank, which is partially funding Lebanon's inoculation programme, initially threatened to suspend financing over the incident.

Lebanon began its vaccination program on Feb. 14 and has since given the first dose to about 100,000 of its more than six million people.

Despite official assurances that everyone is entitled to vaccination, rights groups fear many migrant workers and some of more than a million Syrian and Palestinian refugees in the country may be left out.

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(Reporting by Timour Azhari @timourazhari; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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