Sign up for shots, Jordan urges citizens as vaccination drive starts

Jordan began on Wednesday a coronavirus vaccination programme intended to inoculate one in four of its ten million population, with one official urging more people to register after a low initial take-up for the free shots.

Authorities hope to vaccinate between 20% and 25% of citizens over coming months, but just 200,000 have so far signed up since registrations began on Dec. 24.

"We call on people to come to our centres to take the doses," Wael Hayajneh, a senior health official told reporters.

Mostly over-60s, given priority in the first phase of the roll-out, were waiting to get their doses on Wednesday at 29 centres set up across the country.

Jordan's COVID infection rates have dropped sharply since their peak in November, when authorities reintroduced curbs on movement that had been eased during the summer. On Tuesday it reported 1,176 cases and 33 deaths.

The government this week reported the arrival of consignments of vaccines by Pfizer Inc and China's Sinopharm, and Health Minister Nathir Obeidat said the government was also in talks with manufacturers AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

Officials say the vaccination programme will allow a quick rebound in an economy that contracted 3% last year, while King Abdullah on Tuesday ordered the government to reduce remaining restrictions on mobility and strive to reopen schools and universities shut for nearly a year.

In all, Jordan has reported 309,846 COVID cases and 4,076 deaths.
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