Medair, in cooperation with Lebanon’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and EU Humanitarian Aid, has formed mobile vaccination squads by converting numerous buses into ‘VaxBuses’ to carry out vaccination campaigns. In the Bekaa Valley, and the southern part of Lebanon, the goal is to raise vaccination rates among the most at-risk populations, especially those who may find it difficult to go to a vaccination centre.
In an interview with Salwa who is 63 years old, she states that she never expected to get vaccinated but that has changed with the Vaxbuses.
There is still a lot of confusion about the COVID-19 vaccine among people in low-vaccination areas. There are still some residents in Arsal, a town in the Baalbek–Hermel province of Lebanon, who are reluctant to be vaccinated. Salwa, a Lebanese native, on the other hand, sees the vaccination as nothing more than the key to a normal existence. On this episode, Salwa tells us how the epidemic affected her relatives, as well as why she desires to be vaccinated.
“When I first heard about COVID-19, I was afraid. For the sake of the health of my children, I was apprehensive. My family is blessed to have four sons and three gorgeous daughters. All of my children are now adults with their own families. There are moments like this when a mother has no choice but to put her children first. However, they had to go for work even if I didn’t want it to happen. My Husband had retired a few years ago, but he is no longer able to work, so our children take care of us. You couldn’t go any other way. As the pandemic progressed, I had to be strong for them, but knowing that the coronavirus sickness was spreading would break my heart. I made it a point to continually hammer home the importance of exercising cautious around them. As a family, we were affected by the epidemic. The recent upheaval in the country has made it tough to focus lately. That being said, I’m a big believer that things will turn out perfectly for everyone. “With the support of God and our children, we are able to get by.” The tone of her voice is upbeat.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the vaccination when I first heard about it. Although it looked implausible, When I first started out, it was difficult to find reliable information. I was able to glean a few tidbits of information from the locals and next-door neighbours, but not quite enough. I am afraid of things I don’t comprehend. Then there was the gasoline crisis, which rendered travel between any two points in Lebanon difficult. On top of that, I was apprehensive about being vaccinated at the time. Even though I wished to go, getting to any local center seemed like too much of a hassle. So the subject was dropped. Until that one day, the days flew by like a blur on the calendar.” says Salwa as she fiddles with her mask.
In her eagerness she went on. “I had a dream one night that was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. My heart was light and free as I awoke. My spouse and I were on a religious journey in my dream. Our dream of going on a pilgrimage together had been a long time in the making. When the pandemic struck the year my husband and I had decided to go and could leave, we were forced to stay behind. “Until lately, it was only a fantasy.” Salwa’s voice is optimistic, and her eyes are wide open.
A nurse interrupted Salwa’s talk to provide her first injection of Pfizer vaccine. Anyone in the vicinity of Salwa had heard that a bus carrying Pfizer immunizations was on its way to town for those who met the requirements set down by the public health ministry. It wasn’t long before Salwa realised she and her spouse had met the COVAX eligibility requirements and started urging others to do the same.
She exclaims, “I can’t believe it, because I am finally vaccinated,” as she is allowed inside the monitoring room behind a mask. I waited at the entrance of the botanical garden in Arsal, Spain, today and watched as a bus arrived. Being here assured me that I had made the correct choice. It gives me hope to know that we can restart our strategy. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this endeavour. The vaccination is very appreciated, and we are grateful for your efforts. The only way to restore my life back to normal is to obtain the inoculation.” She appears to be optimistic, based on what she says.