Jerusalem Arabs drag their feet for vaccines as eastern parts of city see cases spike

The Arabs of eastern Jerusalem have so far ignored the educational efforts of Israeli health care and the Jerusalem municipality.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Israeli Jews are rushing to get the vaccine wherever they can. The same can’t be said for Israeli-Arabs living in Jerusalem, who have been slow to show up to receive Pfizer’s corona vaccine, even as their neighborhoods show some of the highest rates of infection in the country.

Only 22% of those aged 60 and over in the eastern, heavily Arab, neighborhoods of the city have received their first vaccine shots, as opposed to 65%-to-70% for the Jewish population. While the average positive test rate in those neighborhoods hovers around 15%, the national average is about 7.5%, Israel Hayom reports on Wednesday.

It’s not for a lack of trying by Israel’s government, which has stressed the importance for Arab-Israelis receiving the vaccine if the country is to achieve herd immunity. The Arab percentage of Israel’s population is roughly 24%.

Stressing the need for Arab-Israelis to vaccinate, the millionth vaccine recipient was a resident of the Arab town of Um el-Fahm. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to celebrate the event on Jan. 2. He tweeted: “I was happy to visit Umm al-Fahm on the occasion of the millionth vaccine in Israel. The Arab sector joins Israel’s success story!”

The apathy among Jerusalem’s Arab population has led Jews in the city to go to the underused Clalit Health Fund buildings in the Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah for vaccinations, as the health clinics in the Jewish neighborhoods are overcrowded, Israel Hayom reports.

Israel continues to make efforts to educate the Arab population. The Jerusalem Municipality is considering opening two more vaccine centers in the north and south of the city, mobile immunization units, which can be relocated within Arab neighborhoods to encourage the population to vaccinate.

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center tracks corona data in Gaza, Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. It reports that the positive test numbers for eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods are: Kfar Akev (22.2%), Beit Hanina (18.3%), Shuafat (17.6%), Abu Tor (16%).

However, in the Tzur Ba’ar and Silwan neighborhoods of Jerusalem the rates resemble the national average.

The death toll in eastern Jerusalem from Covid-19 since the epidemic began is 150, Israel Hayom reports.