Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan inaugurated Lebanon’s largest vaccination center in City Mall, Dora. The center will be managed by the Red Cross and has the capacity to administer up to 5,000 shots per day.

“This step will push citizens to carry out the vaccination process, especially because it is far from the atmosphere of hospitals and health centers and at the same time is very safe with the presence of doctors and the Red Cross,” said Hassan after his tour of the center, which opens between 8 am and 5 pm.

Those who register via the IMPACT platform and receive a message to book an appointment for the Pfizer vaccine can select the new mega-vaccination center in City Mall as their preferred location. Walk-in vaccines are also available for persons aged 63 and above.

This is the ministry’s latest move in an attempt to promote mass vaccinations in the country, as the inoculation roll-out maintains a slow pace.

“Honestly, it’s very important for us as malls and as part of the private sector to do all we can to ease the vaccination process,” Michel Abchi, chairman of Admic City Mall, told LBCI. “It took us around 8 days to prepare the center for them. The center is around 1,000 m2.”

On Saturday and Sunday, a “Pfizer marathon” will take place for residents aged 55 and older and people with special needs. Hassan hopes that between 20,000 and 25,000 individuals will receive the vaccine dose during the marathon.

The country first launched a “vaccine marathon” on May 22, when over 10,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were successfully administered to people above the age of 30. A Pfizer marathon also took place on Sunday, June 6 for people aged 60 and above who wished to receive the vaccine in the districts of Akkar, Baalbek-Hermel, and Bekaa.

The country recently secured a contract to begin producing the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, to be signed by mid-June. The vaccine has so far been distributed privately to businesses, syndicates, NGOs and some political parties.

With the new vaccine center set up in City Mall, the pace of the roll-out is expected to quicken. Caretaker Prime Minister Hassaan Diab aims to vaccinate 80 percent of the country by the end of the year, but doubts remain regarding the achievability of the projected percentage.

Since the arrival of the vaccine to the country in February, over 918,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Lebanon. The total number of those registered to receive the vaccine stands at 1.6 million, out of an estimated 6.8 million individuals residing in Lebanon.

Notably, only 8,403 Syrians and 13,612 Palestinians have been vaccinated.

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Lynn is a Beirut-based journalist. She is a reporter and editor for Beirut Today, actively contributing since 2018 through articles on politics, economics, lifestyle, fashion, and more.