Updated 4 February 2021
Entering 2021, Lebanon continues to struggle amidst the coronavirus pandemic, with thousands of new cases piling on each passing day. The country saw a surge in its cases after the holiday season of Christmas and New Year, compelling authorities to enforce a three-week lockdown that ended on 1 February.
Now, with the advent of the vaccination program, the country is hoping to back to normal post-COVID life soon enough. The country has secured 2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine till now, targeting 20% of its nationals.
Find out more about the Pfizer shots in Lebanon.
How does the Pfizer vaccine work?
Among the available COVID-19 vaccines, there are four distinct types, namely, whole virus (this can again be a weakened form or inactivated coronavirus), protein subunit, nucleic acid (RNA or DNA), and viral vector.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-29 vaccine BNT162b2 is a messenger Ribonucleic Acid (mRNA) vaccine meaning that the vaccine carries genetic instructions that help the recipient’s cells to produce protein pieces that trigger immune system response. The response is in form of the reproduction of millions of copies of spike protein which stimulates the making of antibodies.
This is the same spike protein that is available in the coronavirus and used to enter the cells in the human body. If a sufficient number of antibodies are produced in the human body with the mRNA vaccine, they will prevent the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 from proliferating, thus protecting the recipient from COVID-19.
How effective is the Pfizer vaccine?
The Pfizer vaccine works best with two doses where the second one is registered 21 days after the first one. On administration of the first dose, the immune system is alerted, and post the second one, it gets a boost, thus providing the immunity to fight off the virus. Efficacy is 52% after the first dose and raises up to 95% after the second jab. So, it takes around four weeks to build immunity after the first dose (could happen earlier as well).
It is, however, not particularly known how long the vaccine immunity will last. Insights regarding the Pfizer COVID vaccine’s long term effects are clouded as trials weren’t set up to answer the same. CEO of BioNTech Sahin expects it to be months or possibly even years before the vaccine recipient becomes vulnerable to COVID-19 infection again. Eleanor Riley at the University of Edinburgh in the UK mentioned that we might have to resort to annual boosters.
It is also strongly recommended that you should complete the vaccine course i.e. take both doses before you leave the city.
Are there any reported side effects?
As far as safety is concerned, the Pfizer vaccine has an overall great safety profile with its benefits outweigh the potential risks. Based on safety data collected from 37,586 participants enrolled in an ongoing phase 3 clinical trial, the most commonly reported side effect involves volunteers experiencing an injection site reaction (seen in almost 84% of those who received the vaccine).
So, if you are taking the vaccine, know that the injection site on your arm might hurt a little, show some redness, and get swollen a bit. You might also experience difficulties in moving your arm freely. Other known side effects of the Pfizer vaccine includes:
- Joint pains
Severe reactions were rare with four cases of Bell’s palsy being reported during the trial. However, there is no clear evidence that the cause of this temporary paralysis was the vaccine. Adverse allergic reactions are also possible and hence those who experienced any major allergic reaction during the first dose of the vaccine are being advised not to take the second one.
Pfizer vaccination in Lebanon
To sign the purchase contract with Lebanon, Pfizer had put forth the condition that it must not be held responsible for any adverse side effects, as it would be administered under emergency use authorization that requires less-than-usual data.
In absence of any such law in the country, the Parliament’s Public Health, Labor and Social Affairs Committee drafted and approved one on an urgent basis in mid-January. This law grants a two-year warrant for emergency use of Pfizer, as well as other COVID vaccines.
The first batch of Pfizer vaccine is expected to arrive Mid-February.
Who’ll get the Pfizer vaccine in Lebanon?
The vaccination strategy of the caretaker government gives priority to healthcare workers and people aged 65 and above. It will include Lebanese and non-Lebanese living in the country, including Syrian and Palestinian refugees.
The Ministry of Public Health has elucidated this matter here.
Where to get the Pfizer shots in Lebanon?
The health ministry released a list of 42 designated vaccination centres across the country.
- Tripoli government Hospital
- Halba government Hospital
- Batroun government Hospital
- Minia government Hospital
- Bcharreh government Hospital
- Saydet Zgharta Hospital
- El Youssef Hospital Center
- North Hospital Center CHN
- Albert Haykel Hospital
- Islamic Charitable Hospital – Trablus
- Al Koura Hospital
- Baabda Governmental Hospital
- Al Bouar Public Hospital
- Daher El Bachek Government Hospital
- Sibline governmental Hospital
- Belle Vue Medical Center
- Ain Wazein Hospital
- Hospital Notre Dame Des Secours
- Mount Lebanon Hospital
- Middle East Institute of Health
- Al Rassoul Al Azam Hospital
- Sahel General Hospital
- Rafic Hariri University Hospital
- American University Hospital of Beirut
- Hotel Dieu De France Hospital
- Saint George Hospital University Medical Center
- Makassed General hospital
- Zahraa Hospital
- Lebanese Hospital Geitaoui
- LAU medical center
- Military Hospital
- Baalbeck governmental Hospital
- Elias Hrawi Governmental Hospital – Zahle
- Hermel Governmental Hospital
- Machghara Hospital
- Rachaya Governmental Hospital
- Saida governmental Hospital
- Nabatieh governmental Hospital
- Jezzine governmental Hospital
- Tebnin governmental Hospital
- Jabal Amel Hospital
Registering for the jabs
Lebanon launched its online registration portal for COVID-vaccination on 28 January.
After registering, people will receive a text message with the details of their appointment and the group they belong to. After the first dose is administered, the platform will also automatically set the date for the second dose.
How much will the Pfizer vaccine cost?
The coronavirus vaccine will be available free of cost in Lebanon, even to the refugees.