Judge orders Lebanese health ministry to give COVID-19 vaccine to 80-year-old

Joseph Al-Hajj took legal action after MPs, public officials jumped inoculation queue

Image used for illustrative purpose Lebanese police stand outside the Justice Palace in Beirut, Lebanon, April 13, 2016.

Image used for illustrative purpose Lebanese police stand outside the Justice Palace in Beirut, Lebanon, April 13, 2016.

REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
BEIRUT: A judge has ordered the Lebanese health ministry to vaccinate an 80-year-old man against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after members of parliament jumped the queue to receive the jab.

Joseph Al-Hajj registered in January for a vaccination along with other elderly Lebanese after they were asked to do so by Lebanon’s health authorities.

But after more than a month of waiting, during which a scandal erupted over MPs getting inoculated ahead of the public, Al-Hajj became increasingly frustrated.

Urgent matters judge, Carla Chawwah, on Wednesday issued a decision at Beirut civil court ordering the health ministry to provide vaccination to Al-Hajj by Friday.

The ruling, seen by Arab News, gave instructions that Al-Hajj should be given a COVID-19 vaccine jab within 48 hours, otherwise a fine of 10 million Lebanese pounds ($6,618) would be levied for every subsequent day it was delayed.

Chawwah provided the justice ministry with a copy of her decision.

In his lawsuit, Al-Hajj’s lawyer argued that his client had been waiting to be contacted by the health ministry about his appointment for the vaccination when it emerged that 16 lawmakers and some public officials were inoculated at the Lebanese parliament on Feb. 23.

The lawyer said his client’s health condition should be a “top priority.” As well as his age, he suffered from a clogged artery in his left leg and required permanent medication.

Al-Hajj’s attorney added that vaccinating the MPs and public officials before his client, flouted the set conditions and mechanisms of inoculation procedures.

Chawwah’s ruling said vaccinating the MPs and officials ahead of many vulnerable citizens was a breach of human and health rights.

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