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COVID-19 vaccination kicks-off in South Sudan

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April 6, 2021 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s COVID-19 vaccination drive kicked off on Tuesday, with health workers getting their first dose of the Astra Zeneca vaccine at Juba Teaching Hospital.

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South Sudan’s health minister Elizabeth Achuei receiving the COVID-19 vaccine (Eye Radio photo)

The first person to be vaccinated against COVID-19 was Health minister, Elizabeth Achuei.

“The first phase of the vaccination is conducted in Central Equatoria State targeting health care workers as well as persons aged 65 years and older, given their increased risk of severe disease and death due to a potential COVID-19 infection”, said Achuei.

She added, “The aim of the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine is to protect the prioritized groups against COVID-19”.

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.

"This is a significant moment for the people of South Sudan. “said Patience Musanhu, Gavi Senior Country Manager for 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."

A person being vaccinated with the Astra Zeneca vaccine requires two doses to ensure optimal immune response against the COVID-19 virus. 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.

“The COVID-19 vaccination marks an important step towards control of COVID-19 in South Sudan, which pose a threat to our well-being”, said Dr Fabian Ndenzako, WHO Representative for South Sudan.

“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 added.

Last month, South Sudan received 132,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The first COVAX supported shipment of vaccines will target health care workers as well as persons aged 65 years and older, given their increased risk of severe disease and death due to a potential COVID-19 infection.

“If there is one lesson we can draw from the pandemic, it is that we need more partnerships like these in the world,” said the UNICEF South Sudan Representative Hamida Lasseko.

“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 added.

However, while COVID-19 vaccination is important to protect the most vulnerable and exposed people from getting infected and reduce morbidity and mortality, continued adherence to preventive measures to avoid the spread of the virus by wearing facial masks and respecting social distancing remains crucial.

(ST)

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