By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti
At least fifty thousand Rwandans received COVID-19 jabs on Friday 5 March 2021 as the country launched the mass vaccination drive across the country, the Minister for Health Dr. Daniel Ngamije said.
Over 500 health facilities have received vaccines and the exercise could go on this Saturday and in the coming days.
The country has a target to inoculate at least 60 percent of its population by June next year, according to the minister.
Ngamije also got his jab at Masaka District Hospital in Kigali during the launch.
The vaccines are of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer varieties.
Rwanda currently received that received over 347,000 doses of the vaccine.
According to the Ministry of Health, the country received 240,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India on Wednesday.
It also received another shipment of 102,960 doses of the Pfizer vaccine also from the Covax facility.
The identified priority groups, who will receive two doses each for full protection include; frontline workers, people above 65 years, as well as those with underlying health conditions.
Addressing the media on Friday, Minister Ngamije said the exercise kicked off smoothly as all was well planned and the team that was tasked to vaccinate was well trained ahead.
“I feel good as you can see. I don’t have any health issue in my body,” he said referring to the jab he had received shortly and encouraging more Rwandans to get ready for the vaccine.
He said that the vaccine was long overdue and that more people will be vaccinated as more vaccines are acquired.
The minister arrayed fear to those worried about the vaccine’s side effect saying that just like other vaccines COVID-19 jabs are safe and can have minimal side effects.
He was also referring to the consent form signed by those who are being vaccinated attesting that they will be responsible for any side effect the vaccine may cause.
“I may say that the vaccines are safe and that signing a consent form does not mean that those receiving the vaccine will necessarily have a negative effect,” he said.
“Signing consent form before a medical operation is a practice medics often use,” he added.
According to the officials, the identified priority groups to receive two doses each for full protection include; frontline workers, people above 65 years, as well as those with underlying health conditions.
Meanwhile, Rwanda received 50,000 doses donated by the Indian government on Friday and it is expected that more vaccines will be acquired in the near future.
Rwanda has recorded 19,426 COVID-19 positive cases so far and registered 267 deaths barely a year since the first case was recorded in March 2020. Its active cases stood to 1418 with 11 in critical conditions as per official figures of Friday 5th March 2021.
People who received COVID-19 vaccines said they were fine and had felt no side effect for in the first hours.