For the second time in one week, medical staff and volunteers vaccinated more than half a million people in a single, open-day drive on Sunday, August 15, according to official numbers.
According to the State news agency TAP, citing the Ministry of Health, 594,141 people were vaccinated at 405 different vaccination centers across the country on Sunday. Sunday’s campaign was aimed at the 18 to 39-year old range, while a week earlier, on August 8, the Ministry of Health said that 551,008 had been vaccinated at 335 centers in a drive aimed at those aged 40 and older. Together, these numbers represent almost 10 percent of Tunisia’s population, a sharp increase in the pace of vaccination following mass donations of vaccines to Tunisia from various international donors in June and July.
Meshkal visited the Oued Ellil vaccination center at the Asad Ibn Al-Furat highschool in Manouba on Sunday to document the campaign.
“I hope more young people volunteer to fight this pandemic,” Mohamed Mejri, 29, a volunteer at the vaccination center told Meshkal. “This is our country and we have to rebuild it together for ourselves and our future.”
While the Red Crescent and the Scouts have been key volunteer organizations at vaccination centers across the country, at the Oued Ellil center Meshkal documented about a dozen different volunteer organizations helping with the rollout. Mejri, for example, was with a group called Chabaw al Medina, which he said provides school supplies and food to poorer families.
“Volunteering for my country makes me so proud,” Sara Mezni, 19, a volunteer with the Scouts organization told Meshkal at the vaccination center.
3660 vaccines were administered at the Oued Ellil center on Sunday out of the about 6000 to 7000 vaccines that were in stock there, Aymen Ouerghi, the “omda” (special district-level representative) of Oued Ellil told Meshkal. This number means that the Oued Ellil center was number one among all 13 centers in the governorate of Manouba in terms of number of people vaccinated on Sunday.
Those who went to the vaccination center told Meshkal they were impressed with the level of organization.
“We were encouraged by the medical staff and volunteers and everything was perfectly organized.” Oussama Krichen, 31, told Meshkal at the center where he was vaccinated.
“I can’t thank the organizers enough,” said Khaoula, 31 years old, while Souha, 19, told Meshkal: “It didn’t take me five mins to get my vaccine done.”
At the center, a group called the Committee of Women and Families distributed roses to medical staff and volunteers in celebration of National Women’s Day two days earlier on Friday, August 13.