No health issues noted as 250,000 in Rwanda get AstraZeneca jab

Wednesday March 17 2021
Rwanda Covid-19 vaccine.

A man gets his vaccine from Muyumbu Health center in Rwamagana District, Rwanda, on March 5, 2021. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | THE EASTAFRICAN

By Ange Iliza

With over 250,000 people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Rwanda, no health problems have been recorded so far.

Rwanda has been carrying out countrywide vaccinations for the last two weeks.

Minister of Health Daniel Ngamije said the country will continue to roll out the vaccine until there is scientific evidence to suggest it is not safe.

His comments come at a time when several European countries have suspended the use of AstraZeneca after some people developed blood clot complications.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and AstraZeneca have said there is no evidence linking the vaccine to the blood clots.

“The link between blood clot cases and the vaccine is still a research question. It might be a coincidence. What’s confirmed so far is that WHO approved the vaccine and Rwanda Food and Drug Authority approved it too,” Dr Ngamije said, adding that the vaccine might have mild short-term side effects, especially after the second dose.


Speaking to Rwanda Broadcasting Agency on Tuesday evening, the minister maintained that the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine will continue until there is scientific proof against its safety.

Rwanda has used up all the acquired 340,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses to administer the first doses to the recipients. The country expects to acquire more doses within 28 days—the required time between doses.

Rwanda had initially targeted to vaccinate 170,480 people.

As of Tuesday, an estimated 259,000 people across the country received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Rwanda plans to vaccinate 60 percent of its 12.6 million population by the end of 2020.

Minister Ngamije says the country has multiple options to acquire vaccines, including the Covax Facility through the African Union, and negotiations with the vaccine producers.

As the vaccination campaign continues, people need to be educated about continuing to adhere to Covid-19 measures because the vaccine neither blocks infections nor transmission but only prevents people from critically falling sick, he added.

Rwanda received almost 400,000 doses of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines from the Covax Facility and through a donation from India.

High-risk groups and frontline workers have received their first doses of the vaccines. They include healthcare workers, traders and drivers, elderly people above 65 years of age, people living with an underlying health condition, teachers, journalists, sports and religious personnel, among others.

As of Tuesday, the country had 1,326 active cases, and the positivity rate stood at 2.6 percent.