A vaccine with special storage conditions

Arsène is a logistician at the Expanded Program on Immunization and is one of the staff trained in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine management.

Aurélia Jessica Emmanuella ICKONGA
Arsene
UNICEF/2022/TWIRINGIYIMANA
14 mars 2022

Arsène, 42, is in charge of equipment maintenance and vaccine management at the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) directorate, in Brazzaville, Congo.

Arsène has always been passionate about health and logistics. He started his work at the EPI  in 2009 and worked in several departments before specializing in logistics.

“My role is to ensure that vaccines are stored in optimal conditions and are transported  safely to the four corners of the country. »

Arsène and his team, who normally are in charge of  the EPI routine vaccines management, saw their work intensifying with the COVID 19 pandemic.

“COVID 19 has changed the way we work. The work  became very intense, in terms of workload, and we had to recruit additional staff to support us. »

Arsene
UNICEF/2022/TWIRINGIYIMANA
Arsène, in charge of equipment maintenance and vaccine management at EPI CONGO

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim victims all over the world. The Congo is no exception to this situation. Congo experienced its first case of COVID 19 on March 14, 2020. By March 3rd, Congo has already recorded 19,117 cases including 359 deaths, a case fatality rate of 1.9%.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the United Nations Children's Fund, in collaboration with other partners, has supported the government to respond to the pandemic, including in the vaccination program against COVID 19. The support has mainly focused on social mobilization and logistical support for the transport, storage and distribution of vaccines.

 “The COVID 19 Pfizer vaccine requires special storage conditions. It was necessary to build new cold rooms with special equipment to store this vaccine in optimal conditions ideally from -60 to -81 degrees”, explains Arsene.

Thanks to the support of the Government of the United States of America, the storage capacity for the COVID 19 Pfizer vaccine type has been installed and currently the capacity is of 2900 liters. Through the same grant, UNICEF is currently supporting the Ministry of Health in the training of various categories of staffs , namely vaccines managers, vaccination providers,  sites and data managers on operational procedures for efficient and secure management and administration of the COVID 19 Pfizer vaccine.

The first doses of COVID 19 Pfizer vaccine arrived in Congo on November 19, 2021.

With more than 2 million doses of vaccine available, Congo is one of the countries with adequate quantities of vaccines against COVID19.

Last October, the Government of Congo had launched a 45-days"punch" operation with the objective to vaccinate additional  750,000 people.

This campaign launched by the government has made it possible to increase the uptake of vaccination against #COVID19, public awareness on the importance of vaccination and respect for barrier gestures, as well as the diagnostic and operational capacity for patient care.

Despite these efforts, the percentage of the population fully vaccinated is only 11.01% on the first week of March, 2 years after the start of the epidemic.

With the lifting of most restrictions in the first week of march, the biggest challenge continues to be the acceptance of vaccination coupled to the relaxation in the respect of barrier measures.

''We want to bet on the mobile strategy to boost vaccination. We already have teams in the field who crisscross the city and especially the places of great affluence to vaccinate and sensitize the population to the fact that despite the fact that the peak of contamination is passed, the disease still exists and it is better to be vaccinated so as not to develop severe forms of the disease”, says Arsene.