By Deng Machol
Juba -South Sudan on Tuesday received additional 59,520 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines through the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) and the COVAX Facility in order to resume vaccinations against the deadly virus.
The COVAX Facility is a global partnership comprising Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and WHO established to ensure all countries can equitably access COVID-19 vaccines.
This second batch shipment of the vaccines were donated by the France government.
South Sudan’s government has urged residents to turn up for Covid vaccinations after a month without vaccines.
“On behalf of the government, I would like to welcome the arrival of this life saving vaccine. The deployment will take place as soon as tomorrow (Wednesday). The provision of this would contribute to the effective health of the people,”said Health Minister Elizabeth Achuei
She said the doses will be sent across the country.
“The vaccination will also start straightaway with Juba Teaching Hospital, Juba Military Hospital and Police hospitals respectively,” Achuei told reporters during reception of second consignment at Juba International Airport on Tuesday.
Dr Fabian Ndenzako, South Sudan’s World Health Organization Representative, said, “it is essential and it will contribute to fighting the pandemic in the country”.
He also disclosed that they aim to vaccinate at least 40 percent of the vulnerable groups that include elderly persons by December 2021.
“It is expected that more vaccines will be secured so that all the counties in the states receive them. It will target largely those who need the second dose,” said Ndenzako.q
Hamida Lasseko, the UNICEF Representative said immediate rollout of the vaccine would meet the global intention in time.
According to the WHO, at least 70 percent of the global population would have been vaccinated by the end of the year.
The country’s health officials stressed that the vaccines are safe and appealed to those who received their first doses to turn-up for the second doses.
“Persons who have not been vaccinated, especially the elderly and those with health complications like diabetes, blood pressure are encouraged to turn up for vaccination,” disclosed Achuei.
Of recently, the officials have argued that misinformation on safety and effectiveness has led to vaccine hesitancy in the country.
In March this year, South Sudan received 132,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines from Covax – the global initiative to ensure lower-income countries have access to vaccines.
However, in May, the country initiated a process to return some of its vaccines after concluding it cannot administer the vaccines before their expiry.
On July 18, some of the Covid-19 AstraZeneca vaccines expired. This was after 56,587 citizens got vaccinated, according to the Ministry of Health.
However, the ministry said at least 6,063 doses in the 96 facilities across the country were wasted.
The ministry of health of health as of Tuesday recorded 9 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the cumulative number of cases to 11,436, recoveries 10,948, and 120 fatalities since April last year when the first case was registered.