Ministry of Health supported by WHO, UNICEF and USAID is organizing a caravan to bring COVID-19 information and vaccines closer to citizens
Vaccination caravan will travel to 14 locations throughout the country
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Minister of Health Bekim Sali, United States Ambassador Kate Byrnes, WHO Representatives and UNICEF Representative Patrizia DiGiovanni visited the first of the 14 local community events that the COVID-19 vaccination caravan will visit in the following two weeks. The vaccination caravan will travel throughout the country to bring information and vaccines closer to local communities.
The Ministry of Health and partners reiterated that the coronavirus is still here and the pandemic is far from over. Despite the reduced absolute number of daily cases, COVID-19 related daily deaths in the country averaged 5 over the last week. Based on latest data around 41% of the total population in North Macedonia have been vaccinated with two doses and only 7% have had their booster shot. Considering unvaccinated people have a higher risk of death from COVID-19 than someone who has been vaccinated, a large proportion of the population remains unprotected against the possible severe outcomes of the virus.
"I want to emphasize once again that the decision to vaccinate should not be delayed. As a country, we provide sufficient quantities of vaccines, they are safe and available to all citizens in the country. All interested citizens can be vaccinated at the 14 locations of the organized caravan, and every working day in the nearest Health Center. Vaccines are a much safer way to develop immunity to COVID-19 than infection with the virus and are proven to provide more reliable protection than natural immunity. Vaccination is also very important in the context of easing preventive measures - the more people are vaccinated, the better protected we will be as a community," said Health Minister Bekim Sali.
COVID-19 vaccines have been safely used to vaccinate billions of people. All vaccines go through rigorous trials and independent assessments to make sure they are safe and effective.
"I got vaccinated against COVID-19 because the vaccines are safe and effective, the scientific evidence is clear. As the Minister said, the pandemic isn’t over, and we need to continue to keep getting the message out. Which is why I was very pleased to be able to partner on this project and this caravan, which is going to help bring not just the vaccines to the communities where they need them, to people who are most vulnerable and at risk, but also the information that they need“, said United States Ambassador Kate Byrnes.
Omicron appears to be less severe compared to the Delta variant, especially in those vaccinated, but it should not be seen as mild. People infected with Omicron can be hospitalized and some have already died. It is expected that people who have been infected can also develop long COVID. Booster shots can ensure continued protection against severe COVID-19 disease and death and help people develop maximum protection against all current variants of the virus.
“The vast majority of the people who are hospitalized or who die due to COVID-19 are unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated – for these persons COVID-19 remains a life-threatening disease. With this caravan, we want to reach out to people, get them the information they need from people they trust and ensure that COVID-19 vaccination is easily accessible. Why risk your life, when it only takes a few minutes to save it? Get a jab when the caravan is in your community!”, said Dr Anne Johansen, Special Representative and Head of Office a.i. WHO North Macedonia.
The pandemic is far from over. This means continuing the public health and personal protection measures that we know work, including vaccination against COVID-19. The vaccines are designed to prevent severe disease and death and they are very effective in doing this.
“Events, such as these, help us deliver vaccines and information closer to local communities. Vaccines are crucial in saving lives. They are safe and effective and significantly reduce the risk of severe disease and death. Get vaccinated to protect yourself, children and your communities. And get your booster shots to ensure continued protection against all variants,” said Patrizia DiGiovanni, UNICEF Representative.
Apart from the events organized as part of the vaccination caravan, citizens can get vaccinated at the nearest health center every working day from 08:00 to 14:00. The vaccination point at Bucharest Polyclinic in Skopje is open until 20:00 from Monday to Friday.
Ministry of Health has launched the COVID-19 caravan with support from United States Agency for International Development (USAID), World Health Organization (WHO) and United National Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Below is a list of the times and locations the caravan will visit communities throughout the country:
- 21 March, 11:00-15:00 – Skopje, Shuto Orizari Square
- 22 March, 12:00-16:00 - Kratovo Square
- 23 March, 12:00-16:00 - Radovish Square
- 24 March, 12:00-16:00 - Strumica Square
- 25 March, 12:00-16:00 - Novo Selo (Strumica)Market
- 26 March, 11:00-15:00 - Skopje East Gate Mall
- 27 March, 11:00-15:00 - Kumanovo Square
- 28 March, 12:00-16:00 – Lipkovo, Parking in the village of Matejce
- 29 March, 12-00:16-00 – Arachinovo, Post office
- 30 March, 12:00-16:00 - Chucher Sandevo, OJU Partizanski dom in the village of Sandevo
- 31 March, 12:00-16:00 – Zelenikovo, Marko Cepenkov School
- 1 April, 12:00-16:00 – Vrapciste, Culture Center in the village of Negotino
- 2 April, 11:00-15:00 – Kicevo, Culture Center
- 3 April, 11:00-15:00 - Struga ,New promenade
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.mk.