South Sudan’s Covid-19 vaccination drive kicked off Tuesday with health workers getting their first dose of the AstraZeneca jab at Juba Teaching Hospital.
The first person in the country to be vaccinated against the virus was Elizabeth Achuei, the Minister of Health.
According to the Ministry of Health, all frontline health workers in South Sudan will be offered the vaccine through a national campaign in the coming week.
“The first phase of the vaccination is conducted in Central Equatoria State targeting healthcare workers as well as persons aged 65 years and older, given their increased risk of severe disease and death,” Ms Achuei said.
“The aim of the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccine is to protect the prioritised groups against Covid-19.”
The Covax facility has committed to providing about 732,000 doses.
“This is a significant moment for the people of South Sudan. By protecting the most vulnerable groups, we can save lives, take pressure off health systems and ease the economic burden brought on by the pandemic,” said Patience Musanhu, South Sudan Gavi Senior Country Manager.
Dr Fabian Ndenzako, South Sudan World Health Organization representative, said Covid-19 vaccination marks an important step towards control of the coronavirus in the country.
“Safe, effective, and quality vaccines for Covid-19 are our best hope for bringing the pandemic under control, together with other public health interventions, such as physical distancing, washing hands and mask use,” he said.
Meanwhile, Unicef South Sudan Representative Hamida Lasseko called for more and continuous partnerships among all agencies and the government in order to succeed in curbing the novel coronavirus.
“Unicef is proud to have made vaccine deliveries all over the world including South Sudan on behalf of Covax. Children in South Sudan are now safer because the warm hands of health workers are safer through vaccination,” she said.
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.
South Sudan targets to vaccinate 40 per cent of its over nine million population.