“Please, where is your vaccination card?” This is the question that is directed to all the people who visit the Kirkuk government offices in order to complete their transactions. Anyone who doesn’t show Covid vaccination card must take the vaccination there or turn back home empty-handed.
The administration of Kirkuk issued a circular to all its departments to implement this restriction in order to prevent the spread of the Corona virus, extensively effective in government departments since the beginning of this week.
Abbas Saeed, 56-year-old villagerfrom Riyadh sub-district of Hawija district south of Kirkuk, headed to Food Distribution Company, which distributes subsidized food baskets to all families, in Kirkuk for some paper work but the first question he faced at the company’s entrance was “Where is your vaccination card?”
“I did not receive the vaccine, I swear to you that I do not have corona, I have come a long way, let me complete my few paperwork,” Saeed replied but the company’s police told him that this was the governor’s decision, and if they let him in, they would be held accountable.
If we let you in, we will be held accountable
“Let me enter only this time, I have been commuting to this department for four months,” yet they denied and replied that he could get the vaccine there.
Saeed hesitated for a while then said, "Okay, I'll take the vaccine."
What happened with Abbas has faced all those who visited the food distribution company, which is the most crowded government office in Kirkuk, on November 23rd.
In Mid-November, Kirkuk Health Department decided to launch a large-scale campaign to vaccinate citizens against the Corona virus via nine mobile teams that will visit schools, universities, institutes and departments, and "those who refuse to receive the vaccine will be prevented from working."
The new campaign, scheduled to start in few weeks, is part of the ongoing preparations to confront the "fourth wave of the Corona epidemic", which is expected to escalate according to health officials in Kirkuk and other Iraqi governorates starting next month as temperature degrees sharply drop down.
Located 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, the oil-rich city of Kirkuk is an ethnically mixed province for 1.6 million Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen, Muslims, Christians and Kaka'is. It has long been at the center of disputes between Baghdad and the Erbil.
Iraqi Ministry of health said only seven million Iraqis, about 20% of the population, received the vaccination. The vaccinated in Kirkuk are about 300,000 up to November 23rd.
On the same day, they filled out a form for Saeed, who rolled up his sleeve and received a dose of the Pfizer-BionTech vaccine inside the Food Company, after which they allowed him to enter to complete his treatment.
Kirkuk Health Department has allocated special medical mobile teams to vaccinate citizens against Corona within all Kirkuk government premises since the beginning of this week, while Kirkuk administration has appointed members of the police within the departments to follow up on the implementation of the decision.
In just one hour that day (November 23), at least 20 people took the Corona vaccine inside that government department.
"Before I was really scared because I have heard the vaccine is harmful and will make you sick but now I received the vaccine, so let's see what happens."
Before I was really scared because I have heard the vaccine is harmful and will make you sick but now I received the vaccine, so let's see what happens
The fear of some citizens about receiving Corona vaccine comes at a time when the local and global health centers including the World Health Organization WHO have stressed that these vaccines do not have health disadvantages, but rather enhance the body’s immunity against the Corona virus.
Nearly 5,000 people in Kirkuk received the vaccine on November 23.
The new procedures followed by the administration of Kirkuk, come after that acting governor of Kirkuk, Rakan Saeed al-Jubouri on August 22, 2021, sent a letter to all government departments in Kirkuk requiring that the employees and visitors of the departments, starting from the first of September 2021, hold the vaccination card.
The order stated that any citizen who refrains from taking the Corona vaccine must bring with him a nasal swab examination that proves that he is not infected with the virus.
The order issued by the administration of Kirkuk Governorate was based on decisions issued by the Iraqi Council of Ministers in June 2021 based on recommendations from the Ministry of Health with the aim of immunization against Corona.
People who have medical reports that prove that they are unable to receive the vaccine or who have not been infected with the Corona virus for three months are excluded from the decision.
Shawgar Khalid, 29 , went to a healthcare department in Kirkuk but she was not allow to enter because she had not received the vaccine.
"I came back home. I don't like the idea of getting vaccinated because they say it's not good, but now I have to get vaccinated at the end."
The decision of the administration of Kirkuk includes government employees and workers in the departments and institutions of the private sector, students, professors of universities, government and private institutes, and those over the age of twelve.
Hiwa Aziz, 43 years old, is father of two children in the secondary school. "Since the beginning of this week, the school director told the students that they should bring the vaccination card with them, or that they take the weekly test for Corona and bring the results of the examination to the school."
Sabah Namiq, head of the Health Department at the Presidency of the Kirkuk Health Directorate, said in a statement to KirkukNow on November 17, “We have formed mobile teams, we will start from schools and we will vaccinate students at the age of 12 and above… After that step we will start a campaign to vaccinate people in their homes."