Rwanda has rolled out its Covid-19 vaccination campaign countrywide targeting high-risk groups with over 392,000 doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer doses.
The Minister of Health Dr Daniel Ngamije was administered the jab at the Masaka District Hospital in the capital Kigali on Friday, kicking off the exercise alongside World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative Dr Kasonde Mwinga.
The vaccination is expected to last 48 hours.
Prioritised high-risk groups include frontline workers, elderly people above 65 years, and people living with underlying conditions and disabilities. A total of 171,480 people will be vaccinated.
Rwanda received 240,000 doses of AstraZeneca and 102,960 Pfizer on Wednesday from the Covax facility, a global initiative to ensure equitable access to the Covid-19 vaccines.
On Thursday, the country received additional 50,000 AstraZeneca doses donated by India, bringing the total to 392,960 vaccines.
The vaccines were distributed to 50 district and referral hospitals and onwards to 508 health centres.
According to Dr Ngamije, about 30 per cent of the population will be inoculated by the end of 2021 and 60 per cent in 2022. The Health minister said Rwanda is in talks with partners and governments to acquire more vaccines for its about 13 million population.
Christian Ngendahayo, a medical doctor at Kibagabaga Hospital in Kigali, is among those who will receive the vaccination. He says the vaccine is a relief because it minimises risks that come with being a frontline worker.
“This is a relief and encouragement. Frontline workers are at risk of contracting the virus more than others. I believe we will be able to deliver on our duties with more confidence this time,” he said.
Local authorities have shortlisted individuals targeted for inoculation and provided the lists to the health facilities.
Rwanda is among African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, DR Congo, among others, that have started receiving Covid-19 vaccines under Covax facility since late February.
East Africa will receive close to 10 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from the Covax facility. However, the doses are only allocated to countries that have signed up to be part of the initiative. Kenya will receive 4.2 million, Rwanda 1.1 million, Uganda 3.6 million and South Sudan 864,000.
As at Friday, Rwanda has recorded 19,334 coronavirus cases since March 2020 with 266 deaths. The current positivity rate stands at 3.4 per cent.