South Sudan‘s COVID-19 vaccination campaign kicked off today with health workers receiving their first dose of Astra Zeneca vaccine at Juba University Hospital. The first person in the country to be vaccinated against the virus was the Hon. Minister of Health Elizabeth Achuei.
In the coming weeks and months, all frontline health workers in South Sudan will be offered the vaccine as part of a nationwide immunization campaign. Subsequently, people with co-morbidities and people over 65 will also be offered the vaccine. On March 25, 2021, South Sudan received 132,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX facility.
“The first phase of immunization is being conducted in Central Ecuador State, targeting healthcare workers as well as people aged 65 and over, given their increased risk of serious illness and death from severe disease. potential infection with COVID-19, ”said the Minister of Health. The Honorable Elizabeth Achuei. “The objective of the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine is to protect priority groups against COVID-19”.
South Sudan aims to vaccinate 40% of its population against COVID-19. The COVAX establishment is committed to providing half of the required doses, ie 732,000 doses in total. Therefore, vaccination should be done in stages as the vaccines arrive.
“This is an important time for the people of South Sudan,” said Patience Musanhu, Gavi Senior Country Manager for South Sudan. “By protecting the most vulnerable groups, we can save lives, ease the strain on health systems and ease the economic burden from the pandemic. “
A person vaccinated with the Astra Zeneca vaccine needs two doses to ensure an optimal immune response against the COVID-19 virus. Vaccination against COVID-19 in South Sudan will be provided on a voluntary basis and free of charge. All people receiving the vaccine will be asked to give their consent before being vaccinated.
“Vaccination against COVID-19 marks an important step towards controlling COVID-19 in South Sudan, which poses a threat to our well-being,” said Dr Fabian Ndenzako, Acting WHO Representative for South Sudan. “Safe, effective and quality COVID-19 vaccines are our best hope for bringing the pandemic under control, along with other public health interventions, such as physical distancing, hand washing and the use of masks.” .
For several months, COVAX partners have been helping governments and partners, especially in low-income countries, including South Sudan, to prepare for the vaccination rollout. This includes helping to develop national immunization plans, supporting cold chain infrastructure, as well as stocking half a billion syringes and safety boxes for disposal, masks , gloves and other equipment to ensure that there is enough equipment for health workers to start immunizing priority groups as soon as possible.
“If there is one lesson we can learn from the pandemic, it is that we need more partnerships like these around the world,” said UNICEF representative in South Sudan Hamida. Lasseko. “UNICEF is proud to have delivered vaccines around the world, including to South Sudan on behalf of COVAX. Children in South Sudan are now safer because the warm hands of health workers are safer thanks to the vaccination.
As people at risk of developing serious illness if infected with COVID-19 wait to be vaccinated, we all need to help stop the spread of the disease in South Sudan. This means adhering to simple but very effective prevention measures such as maintaining a six foot distance in public places and good hand hygiene.
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