The first jab
The COVID-19 vaccination roll-out has started in South Sudan
It was the Minister of Health herself, Elizabeth Achuei, who received- the first COVID-19 jab in South Sudan 6 April 2021. The first batch of vaccines, 132,000 doses, arrived in the country 25 March 2021- all facilitated through COVAX. After finalizing the rollout-plans, it was time to start vaccinating.
South Sudan aims at vaccinating 40 per cent of its population against COVID-19. The COVAX facility has committed to providing half of the required doses meaning 732,000 doses in total. Therefore, the vaccination must be done in phases as the vaccines arrive.
Health workers at Juba Teaching Hospital were lining up for the COVID-19 vaccine that the country has been waiting for. In the coming weeks and months, all frontline health workers in South Sudan will be offered the vaccine through a national vaccination campaign. Subsequently, people with co-morbidities and people above 65 years of age will also be offered the vaccine as they are high at risk of developing severe illness if exposed to the virus.
Vial after vial was brought up from the cool box which is doing exactly that; keeping the vaccines cool. UNICEF South Sudan is providing most of the existing cold chain in South Sudan which is used for storing all vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine.
27 year old Issac Lemi Beshir was one of many health workers at Juba Teaching Hospital who were vaccinated against5 COVID-19 at the same day the campaign was launched. As health workers are at high risk of exposure to the virus, he was happy to get the jab and feel safer working in a health facility.
For UNICEF South Sudan, ensuring continuation of essential services has been critical since the pandemic started in 2020, as the same hands that are treating COVID-19 patients are helping children suffering from malaria, pneumonia and other diseases. Protecting health workers means helping everyone.
The final proof; the vaccination card. A person being vaccinated with the Astra Zeneca vaccine requires two doses to ensure optimal immune response against the COVID-19 virus. With the card, it is easy to keep track of when the next dose is due.
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.