Rwanda becomes second African country to roll out COVID-19 mass vaccination

On 24 August 2021 at 04:35

Rwanda has become the second African country to roll out COVID-19 mass vaccination after South Africa.

Following the approval of different types of vaccines by the World Health Organization (WHO), developing countries initially struggled to secure vaccine doses.

As days went by, some African countries started receiving COVID-19 vaccines through initiatives aimed at ensuring equitable distribution, even though the continent still lags behind the vaccination program.

Africa is using several types of vaccines, which were obtained in different ways.

African nations are both purchasing new doses and receiving them from other countries. Donations came from all over the world, such as China, the United Arab Emirates, India, and Russia.

According to Statista, a German company specializing in market and consumer data; the United Nations-led COVAX initiative already provided Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech doses to some African countries.

Within this program, the continent is supposed to receive a total of 600 million doses by December 2021 to vaccinate 60 percent of the African population by June 2022.

Latest figures from WHO show that some countries including the United States of America (USA) have vaccinated over 50% of their population while some African countries have not yet covered 10%.

It is reported that 32.7% of the world population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 24.6% is fully vaccinated.

5 billion doses have been administered globally while 33.56 million are administered each day.

Only 1.4% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.

On the African continent, Morocco has the highest number of vaccine recipients with 36.8% while South Africa vaccinated 8% of its population.

Rwanda is among African countries that have started administering vaccines since March this year starting with people whose line of duty puts them at risk of catching the virus.

So far, Rwanda has 432,429 fully vaccinated people since the exercise began.

On Monday 23rd August 2021, Rwanda started COVID-19 mass vaccination targeting all people aged 18 and above.

The mass vaccination campaign started with Kigali City expected to be extended countrywide later depending on available vaccine doses.

With the exercise in place, Rwanda has become the second African country following South Africa which also started mass vaccination for people aged18 years and above.

People below the age of 18 are not eligible for the vaccine as per guidelines from the World Health Organization.

According to health experts, Rwanda’s rolling out of mass vaccination is a great milestone to mitigate effects of the pandemic.

The State Minister in Charge of Primary Healthcare in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Tharcisse Mpunga has told IGIHE that the mass vaccination came after different phases targeting people in advanced ages, health workers, and people with chronic diseases among others whose duties expose them.

He explained that Rwanda has been handling the situation with unique approaches and expressed optimism for the situation to normalize in case a large segment of the population is inoculated.

“I think it is Rwanda’s unique approach considering expended efforts since the pandemic emerged in the country. A large number of positive cases was found among people in the age brackets between 25 and 39 of whom the majority live in towns,” he said.

“As a result, some parts of towns were placed under lockdown at different times which negatively affected the economy,” added Dr. Mpunga.

Kigali, which generates close to 50% of Rwanda’s national GDP, has been hit hard particularly and went into lockdown three times since the pandemic emerged in March 2020.

Dr. Mpunga has revealed that the mass vaccination program starting with the youth will pave the way for the resumption of operations given that a large number will have been immunized.

“We started vaccinating elders and the exercise is ongoing. We also found it necessary to target the youth among vaccine recipients so that we can recover the economy,” said Dr. Mpunga.

The third phase of COVID-19 mass vaccination targeting people aged 18 and above kicked off yesterday. It is expected to have covered 90% of Kigali City dwellers within two weeks.

Rwanda plans to vaccinate 30 per cent of the population by the end of 2021 and continues efforts to acquire sufficient doses through direct purchases and other arrangements, to ensure as many Rwandans as possible are protected from COVID-19.

Dr. Mutesa Leon, a lecturer of human genetics at the University of Rwanda has also welcomed the COVID-19 mass vaccination program considering it a milestone towards reducing the transmission of the virus.

Rwanda has started administering COVID-19 vaccines for people aged 18 and above.