Delivering on the promise

Ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines

UNICEF East Asia Pacific
23 September 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives forever and spurred an immediate, global race to develop safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. The pace at which vaccines were developed was a huge step forward for the world and marked the start of the journey to deliver those vaccines.

For East Asia and Pacific, this year has seen waves of record highs in COVID-19 cases as well as deaths, with new variants making the virus much harder to contain and increasing the urgency to deliver.

Through the COVAX Facility, many countries have been able to get access to safe and affordable vaccines. Doses donated through COVAX have also provided timely relief to the region.

UNICEF staff receive COVID-19 at the airport
Cambodia receives 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on 02 March 2021, becoming one of the first countries in the Western Pacific region to receive vaccines through the COVAX Facility.
COVID-19 vaccines are handed over to another delegating during a ceremony
UNICEF/UN0477366/Byambasuren & UNICEF/UN0477348/Byambasuren
In Mongolia 100,620 Pfizer vaccines arrived in May 2021 through the COVAX Facility and received weekly shipments beginning in June, through bilateral agreements under the Government of Japan grant.

Once doses have been secured, they are shipped for delivery. For parts of the region, this has meant navigating the hurdles of reaching some of the most remote communities, while transporting the vaccines at a regulated temperature to preserve their quality.

COVID-19 vaccines being delivered and transported at the airport
UNICEF/UN0436219/Nauru Airlines & UNICEF/UN0435097/Ministry of Health Tonga
In Tonga, vaccine shipments arrived on 31 March and in Nauru on 01 April 2021.
UNICEF representative welcomes the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines at the airport
In Lao PDR UNICEF representative welcomed the first batch of COVAX-supported vaccines in March 2021.

Through the COVAX Facility – led by GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations (CEPI) – UNICEF is working with manufacturers and partners on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine doses, as well as freight, logistics and storage.

COVID-19 vaccines being transported at the airport
In Timor Leste a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Government of New Zealand arrived in in June 2021.
COVID-19 vaccines being shipped and boxes being sanitized at the airport
UNICEF/UN0493390/Viet Nam\Truong Viet Hung & UNICEF/UN0497549/Cayco
In Vietnam COVID-19 vaccines, donated by the United States Government through COVAX, arrived on 24-25 July 2021 and in Philippines on 03 August 2021. The donations are part of the US Government’s global vaccine-sharing strategy that aims to provide at least 80 million vaccine doses to countries most affected by the pandemic.
UNICEF staff inspect COVID-19 vaccine storage facilities and help carry boxes of vaccines
UNICEF/UN0424459/Raab & UNICEF/UN0435521/Chuluunbaatar
In Mongolia and Cambodia UNICEF has supported the transportation and storage of COVID-19 vaccines. UNICEF ensured robust monitoring during transport and storage, in line with international regulatory requirements, at controlled temperatures and without delay to ensure the quality of the vaccines.
UNICEF staff inspect COVID-19 vaccines
UNICEF/UN0496260/Viet Hung
In Vietnam, UNICEF staff inspects COVID-19 vaccines at the cold storeroom of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE). UNICEF ensures accurate and continuous inspection of vaccines from the time they are manufactured until the moment of vaccination to ensure that the vaccine does not lose its potency to protect against COVID-19.
UNICEF and WHO staff inspect boxes of COVID-19 vaccines
UNICEF/UN0439487/Vatava Media
In Papua New Guinea UNICEF and WHO staff inspect boxes of COVID-19 vaccine, shipped from India through the COVAX Facility, ahead of their nationwide distribution for frontline health care workers.

Another key part of the journey has been training healthcare workers on proper handling and administering the vaccines. Healthcare workers are the heroes in white that are often seen as the most reliable source of information so preparing them with accurate and relevant information has been a key driver of success for tackling vaccine hesitancy.

Health workers attends online training on his laptop
In Indonesia, an emergency room nurse attends an online training facilitated by UNICEF, the Ministry of Health and the COVID-19 Handling and the National Economic Recovery Committee (KPCPEN) on effectively communicating key information and increasing acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines.
Health workers sitting in rows at a training programme
In Lao PDR health workers attend the COVID-19 vaccine roll out programme. Their capacities and skills to communicate accurately on COVID-19 vaccines is one of the defining factors in ensuring timely delivery and acceptability of COVID-19 vaccines.

Once the vaccines and injection devices reach healthcare workers, vaccination rollout can start. They began with the most vulnerable groups and the frontline workers that have been at the heart of the battle since the start of the pandemic. As more shipments continue to arrive across the region, countries have been able to broaden their vaccination plans and expand their coverage.

Elderly women gets her COVID-19 vaccine and vulnerable groups sitting in rows waiting to receive their vaccines
UNICEF/UN0468443/Ifansasti & UNICEF/UN0479742/Raab
Vaccination campaigns across the region prioritized vulnerable and high-risk groups to ensure everyone, everywhere gets vaccinated and is protected against COVID-19.
Health worker administer COVID-19 vaccine to patient in his car at a vaccine drive
Indonesia’s Ministry of Health partnered with Grab and Good Doctor to hold mass vaccinations for the elderly and online taxi drivers as part of the national COVID-19 vaccine campaign. In Indonesia, UNICEF is supporting the COVID-19 vaccine campaign through technical assistance, risk communication, community engagement, cold chain capacity building, health work training and facilitating discussions with the COVAX facility, across all 34 provinces.
UNICEF staff talking to one another at a vaccination rollout event
In Cambodia, representatives from UNICEF and WHO monitor progress of vaccine delivery and receive feedback on how recipients felt about the vaccination progress. While the vaccination process is in progress in most countries in this region, UNICEF continues to work closely with partners to deliver on its promise of vaccinating everyone, everywhere against COVID-19 and ensuring no one is left behind.

While the region is only at the beginning of its path to recovery, there is an ongoing, relentless effort to reach as many people as quickly as possible. UNICEF is proud to work with governments and development partners to ensure equitable access to the vaccines, leaving no one behind.  This journey began with an urgent call to protect the world against COVID-19 and will only end once the vaccines reach everyone, everywhere.