Somalia Receives First Batch of COVID-19 Vaccines Under the COVAX Initiative
Mogadishu – Somalia has joined the growing list of countries to receive the COVID-19 vaccines, under the COVAX initiative which aims to ensure fair and equitable access of all nations to the pandemic-beating solution.
A consignment of 300,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine arrived earlier today at Aden Abdulle International Airport in Mogadishu, and was received in the presence of high-level officials of the Federal Ministry of Health and the United Nations in Somalia.
The United Nations Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan, hailed the Somali authorities for their sustained efforts to combat COVID-19 and pledged the world body’s continuing support to roll out a nationwide vaccination campaign to contain the spread of the pandemic.
“We commend the Somali Federal Government and Federal Member States for efforts over the past year to combat the pandemic through education, through preventive measures, through improved health services,” Mr. Swan said.
This first batch of vaccines targets, as recommended by the COVID-19 National Task Force, the country’s frontline workers, the elderly and people with chronic health conditions, in an effort to reduce deaths and diseases caused by COVID-19.
Somalia's Federal Minister of Health, Dr. Fawziya Abikar Nur, noted that vaccination is an effective intervention to halt the spread of COVID-19, and pledged that the doses would reach the intended beneficiaries.
"After tireless efforts, we have managed to receive the first batch of the vaccine and we are expecting to receive more.” Dr. Fawziya said. "I would like to thank all the UN family for the tremendous work with the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Member State Ministries of Health."
One year on: Hope in fighting COVID-19
The first vaccines arrive precisely a year after Somalia detected its first COVID-19 case, in March 2020. To date, the country has recorded 8,946 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 349 deaths.
Overall, Somalia has secured enough vaccines from the COVAX initiative to vaccinate at least 20 per cent of its population, in phases. The Federal Government of Somalia is currently assessing ways to provide vaccines for more people.
The Ministry of Health will build on its extensive, long experience in conducting mass vaccination drives, educate the public in order to gain their support and raise awareness about the value and effectiveness of the vaccine, and utilize existing cold chain supply systems to distribute the vaccines.
Social mobilizers will be deployed to communities to encourage use of the COVID-19 vaccine. While it is recognized that the vaccines have helped reduce the spread of the coronavirus, it is also important to reinforce the preventive measures.
“We encourage people to take the vaccine,” Mr. Swan said. “We encourage people to continue with all possible preventive measures – hand washing, mask wearing, social distancing. COVID is still a serious threat. We need to stay vigilant. The vaccine will help, but it is not the only solution.”
The COVAX initiative is supported by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), the World Health Organization, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).