South Sudan receives first batch of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility

24 March 2021
Vaccines on a pallet
UNICEFSouthSudan/Ruati

Juba, 25 March 2021 – Today 132,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine arrived at the Juba International Airport. This is the first of several vaccine shipments scheduled to arrive over the coming months to South Sudan through the support of the COVAX Facility. The COVAX Facility is a global partnership comprised of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and WHO established to ensure all countries can equitably access COVID-19 vaccines.

The first COVAX supported shipment of vaccines will target health care workers as well as persons aged 65 years and older, given their increased risk of severe disease and death due to a potential COVID-19 infection. The health care workers include doctors, nurses, community-based health workers and social mobilisers, amongst others.

“The COVID-19 vaccine will help us to protect our population against COVID-19 infections and prepare for a return to a normal life. We are grateful to all partners for their support in facilitating the arrival of the vaccines in our country,” said Minister of Health Hon Elizabeth Achuei.

Together with today’s COVAX shipment of vaccines, 132,500 syringes and 1,325 safety boxes for the safe disposal of syringes arrived.

Through the COVAX Facility, 732,000 doses of vaccines are expected to be deployed to South Sudan in the first six months of 2021.

“Today is a historic day for South Sudan and its fight against COVID-19,” said Patience Musanhu, Gavi Senior Country Manager for South Sudan. “This delivery is the product of an unprecedented global partnership to ensure every country has access to COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines are safe, they are effective, and they will be an important tool in the fight against this disease.”

The COVID-19 vaccination campaign in South Sudan will start soon. Plans for implementing vaccine activities throughout the country in all 80 counties are being developed. Health care workers are being trained prior to vaccine deployment.

Over the next several months, through to the end of 2022, South Sudan is planning to vaccinate 40 per cent of its population, as outlined in the country’s COVID-19 National Deployment and Vaccination Plan.

“The arrival of the vaccines is the first step towards a normal life which is an important step for children and their future, as we know they have been hit the hardest by all the COVID-19 restrictions,” said Ms. Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF South Sudan Representative. “We are delighted the hard work over the last weeks has paid off and we will have no rest until vaccines are brought to those most in need across the country and the vaccination campaign starts.”

A person being vaccinated with the Astra Zeneca vaccine requires two doses to ensure optimal immune response against the COVID-19 virus. The COVID-19 vaccination in South Sudan will be provided on a voluntary basis and free of charge.  All people receiving the vaccine will be asked to consent prior to being vaccinated.

“We are thrilled that we received the vaccine," said Dr Fabian Ndenzako, WHO Representative a.i. for South Sudan. "The vaccine complement, and not replace, proven public health measures such as wearing masks, physical distancing, ventilation and hand hygiene alongside robust programmes to test, trace, isolate and treat. WHO appeals to the general public to adhere to preventive public health measures by wearing masks, keeping a distance, and frequently washing hands.”

While COVID-19 vaccination is important to protect the most vulnerable and exposed people from getting infected and reduce morbidity and mortality, a continued adherence to preventive measures to avoid the spread of the virus by wearing facial masks and respecting social distancing remains crucial.

Note for the editors:

About CEPI

Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations, launched at Davos in 2017, to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics. CEPI has moved with great urgency and in coordination with WHO in response to the emergence of COVID-19. CEPI has initiated ten partnerships to develop vaccines against the novel coronavirus. The programmes are leveraging rapid response platforms already supported by CEPI as well as new partnerships.

About Gavi

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunise a whole generation – over 822 million children – and prevented more than 14 million deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 73 developing countries. Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningitis and yellow fever vaccines.

About WHO

The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing.

About COVAX

COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi) and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with UNICEF as key implementing partner, as well as civil society organisations, vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others.

Media contacts

Helene Sandbu Ryeng
Communications Specialist
UNICEF South Sudan
Tel: + 211 921 61 5824
Jemila M. Ebrahim
Communication Officer
WHO South Sudan
Tel: +211 92 164 7859

About UNICEF

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 in South Sudan visit: www.unicef.org/southsudan

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