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COVID-19 vaccination program launched across Jaffna

The public vaccination program against COVID-19 began in Jaffna, on Sunday.

The rollout was initiated under the surveillance of Sri Lankan army officers, as the Northern Province Health Department were ordered to provide vaccinations to people over the age of 30 in 12 identified hotspot communities in Jaffna, in the first phase of the vaccination program.

The Health Department is working with the Divisional Health Officer and the Divisional Secretariat to distribute 50,000 Chinese-state produced Sinopharm vaccines allotted to the Jaffna district.

A Jaffna University staff member screened ahead of his vaccination

Earlier today, Jaffna university staff were granted permission to be eligible for the vaccination rollout with allocations given to around 2,100 members from the university and nearby faculties. It was announced on Sunday that pregnant women are not eligible to receive the vaccine at this time.

According to the Ministry of Health's guidelines, vaccinations will be available on a priority basis to 61 Grama Divisions identified as hot spots, with distribution to other districts planned in subsequent phases.

Vaccination centres are operating from 8am to 8pm by appointment with eligible identification and only those who are eligible can be vaccinated, only in their registered Grama Niladhari Division.

Sri Lankan army officers have also been deployed across vaccination centres as military occupation in the North East continues to be normalised. Many human rights advocates have voiced concern over Sri Lanka's militarised response to the coronavirus pandemic that state forces have used the virus as a guise to target, harass and surveill Tamil communities.

Earlier this week, the Sri Lankan Air Force used drone surveillance to enforce lockdown in Mullaitivu.

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