BEIRUT – Despite the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, Lebanese officials have so far eschewed entering another lockdown by directing efforts towards preventative measures, including curfews and restrictions on public spaces and, most prominently, ramping up the country’s vaccination campaign.
This includes giving first and second doses – more than half of the country’s adult population has yet to receive a first COVID-19 shot, according to the Ministry of Public Health – but also, increasingly, giving booster shots to the previously vaccinated.
The ministry will hold a vaccine “marathon” this weekend where all those eligible for a third dose – as well as those in need of their first and second – will be able to receive the shot (see details below).
Why get a booster shot?
The COVID-19 vaccine increases antibody levels to protect against infection and severe symptoms; however the protection has been shown to wane. The World Health Organization indicated that people who had completed a primary course of vaccination had a reduced protection against severe and symptomatic disease after five months, especially adults over the age of 50 years.
“Boosters aim to keep immunization levels up,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Tahsine Mahfouz, who works at the Bahman and Al Hayat hospitals, told L’Orient Today. “Researchers [have] found that the protection levels provided by two doses of the vaccine had decreased not only in older adults but for the general population as well, hence the recommendation for widespread boosters.”
Mahfouz added, “The third dose of COVID-19 vaccines was initially introduced to counteract the Delta variant” and has been shown by recent studies to “reduce the speed of transmission and the severity of symptoms for the Omicron variant.”
COVID-19 variants such as Delta and Omicron are mutated forms of the virus designated by the World Health Organization as “variants of concern” that show an “increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology; or increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation; or decrease in effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics.”
While Mahfouz explained that the surge in cases was partly explained by the increased contact resulting from reopening schools, universities and public spaces, he emphasized the importance of the vaccine in reducing infections, noting the high infectiousness of the Omicron variant.
Lebanon had registered less than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases per day between Sep. 8 and Nov. 10 after which the number of cases steadily remained over 1,000 before surging in late December, reaching an all-time high of 7,974 on Friday.
Health minister Firass Abiad noted that Lebanon’s “best way to protect itself is to achieve herd immunity through vaccination.”
The WHO, the United States’ Center for Disease Control, and the Danish Statens Serum Institute note that booster shots have had a demonstrated effectiveness in re-raising protection against COVID-19, specifically against the Omicron variant.
How to get boosted?
The MOPH’s vaccination campaign had administered more than 320,000 booster shots as of Friday evening, according to the government's IMPACT platform.
While the boosters had been made available through appointments scheduled through the COVAX platform, the health ministry also organized “vaccination marathons” to increase availability.
On Friday, the MOPH announced it would hold a marathon this weekend on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. targeting students and teaching personnel ahead of schools reopening. However, anyone over the age of 12 (born before 2009) and meeting the necessary criteria is eligible to receive their shot. The second dose is available to people who have had a 21-day interval since their first dose as of Dec. 8, 2021. People who have received their second dose more than five months ago (before Aug. 8, 2021) are eligible to receive a booster.
The ministry announced the vaccines would be available at the following mobile sites and vaccination centers. Residents seeking to receive the vaccine need to present valid identification (i.e. identity card, passport, individual family record or municipal proof of residence).
The following centers will be participating in the marathon:
Rafik Hariri University Hospital 01 830 000 - Saturday
Lebanese American University Medical Center - Rizk Hospital 01 200 800 - Saturday
American University of Beirut Medical Center 01 350 000 - Saturday
Geitawi Hospital 01 590 000 - Saturday and Sunday
Sahel Hospital 01 858 333 ext: 2714 - Saturday and Sunday
Iman Hospital 25 554 264 ext: 229 - Saturday
Sacred Heart Hospital 05 453 5000 ext: 4152 - Saturday and Sunday
Al Jabal Hospital 05 360 555 ext: 4550 - Saturday and Sunday
Imam Al Reda Health Center 05 488 070/ 76 815 512 - Saturday
Ghobeiry Municipality Center 01 277 110 - Saturday
Daher El Bachek Hospital 04 872 147-9 - Saturday
Red Cross Center City Mall 1760 - Saturday and Sunday
Baabda Governmental Hospital 05 920 755 - Saturday and Sunday
Ain Wazein Hospital 81 903 891 - Saturday and Sunday
Sibline Governmental Hospital 07 971 722 - Saturday and Sunday
Coalition of Baalbeck Municipalities Center 81 374 765 - Saturday and Sunday
Coalition of Hermel Municipalities Center 76 053 002 - Saturday and Sunday
Dar el Amal University Hospital 08 340 620 - Saturday
Hermel Governmental Hospital 08 225 310 - Saturday and Sunday
Chtaura Hospital 08 544 022 ext:1075-1475 - Saturday
Machghara Governmental Hospital 08 651 738 - Saturday and Sunday
Bekaa Hospital 71 220 611 - Saturday
Rachaya Governmental Hospital 08 591 505 - Saturday and Sunday
Tripoli Governmental Hospital 06 385 300 - Saturday
Saydet Zgharta University Medical Center 06 660 575 - Saturday and Sunday
Bcharre Hospital 70 458 588 - Saturday
University of Balamand Vaccination Center 06 830 250 - Saturday and Sunday
Sir El Dinnieh Governmental Hospital 06 491 911 - Saturday and Sunday
Minia Governmental Hospital 06 463 933 ext: 232 - Saturday and Sunday
Haykel Hospital 06 411 111 - Saturday
Centre Hopitalier du Nord 03 842 715 - Saturday
Rahal Akkar Hospital 26 690 000 - Saturday
Habtoor Health Center 06 865 065 - Saturday
Halba Governmental Hospital 26 695 637 - Saturday and Sunday
Saida Governmental Hospital 07 411 080 - Saturday and Sunday
Jwaya Medical Center 07 411 080 - Saturday
Aytit Medical Center 07 431 156 - Saturday and Sunday
Kana Governmental Hospital 07 430 537 - Sunday
Jezzine Governmental Hospital 07 780 406 - Saturday and Sunday
Hiram Hospital 07 343 700 ext:332 - Saturday
Kharroubi Hospital 07 443 344 - Saturday and Sunday
Nabih Berri Governemntal Hospital 07 766 888 - Saturday
Marjayoun Governmental Hospital 27 831 074 - Saturday and Sunday
Mays el Jabal Governmental Hospital 71 807 649 - Saturday and Sunday
Borej Qalaway Health Center 07 385 454 - Saturday and Sunday
Ragheb Harb University Hospital 07 766 799 - Sunday
Hasbaya Governmental Hospital 07 550 410 ext:221 - Saturday and Sunday
Khiam Medical Center 07 840 536 - Saturday
Tibnin Governmental Hospital 03 720 204 - Saturday and Sunday
Can’t make the marathon? You can still get the booster at these centers
The following centers offer booster shots by walk-in and appointment. While booster shots are not limited to a particular age group for appointments, individuals over the age of 50 years who have received their second vaccine dose more than five months ago are also eligible to receive a booster shot by walk-in at the following centers:
Rafik Hariri University Hospital 01 830000
Geitawi Hospital 01 590 000
Bouar Governmetnal Hospital 29 448 725
Al Rassoul Al Aazam Hospital 81 930 350
Ain Wazein Hospital 81 903 891
Red Cross Center* - City Mall 1760
Machghara Governmental Hospital* 08 651 738 ext: 130/137
MSF Vaccination Center - Bar Elias 81 880 836
Tripoli Governmental Hospital 06 385 300
Sir Denniye Governmental Hospital 06 491 911
Minieh Governmental Hospital 06 463 933 ext: 232
Halba Governmental Hospital 26 695 637
Qana Governmental Hospital 07 430 537
Jezzine Governmental Hospital 07 780 406
Khroubi Hospital 07 443 344
Hasbaya Governmental Hospital* 07 550 410 ext: 221
Tibnin Governmental Hospital 03 720 204
Bint Jbeil Governmental Hospital 27 452 000
Coalition of Baalbek Municipalities
Coalition of Hermel Municipalities 76 053 002
*These centers are also offering booster shots to eligible people of all ages
BEIRUT – Despite the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, Lebanese officials have so far eschewed entering another lockdown by directing efforts towards preventative measures, including curfews and restrictions on public spaces and, most prominently, ramping up the country’s vaccination campaign.This includes giving first and second doses – more than half of the country’s...