With the worlds youngest nation, South Sudan receiving new Doses of Covid-19 vaccines through the COVAX initiative, there has been an increase in the number of people turning up at the vaccination centers for the jab.
This is according to John Rumunu, South Sudan’s acting Incident Manager who said the country’s dashboard indicates that 69,110 people have received their first AstraZaneca dose while 26,872 are fully vaccinated as of mid-September.
In just two weeks South Sudan is left with around 24,000 AstraZeneca doses out of 60,000 doses received. This is an impressive and good uptake compared to when the country just started the vaccination process started.
With a population of about 12 million people, the high demand should enable South Sudan to meet its target of vaccinating 10% of the population with more vaccines expected in the country.
Dr Sacha Bootsma, WHO’s COVID-19 Incident Manager, says she was afraid that people would not go for their second dose of the vaccine because of the delays in the arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccines, but this hasn’t been the case. She however described the turn up by the south Sudanese nationals for the vaccination process as impressive.
Additionally, the WHO’s COVID-19 Incident Manager further said they are doing all we can to encourage people to get vaccinated. For example, UNICEF is working with schools to ensure that teachers are properly vaccinated. We also have social mobilisers who go into the communities to build awareness and educate people on vaccines.
Bootsma adds that they also have to take the nature of the different vaccines into consideration. Having recently received a batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines, she says, “We want to make sure that all the guidelines and training materials are properly updated in line with this vaccine before sending out the social mobilisers. Johnson & Johnson is a one-shot vaccine as compared to the two-dose AstraZeneca. We need to go through the process of training healthcare workers in things like the specific way to store this vaccine, disposal of empty vials, etc.”
Vaccines are transported from Juba to various states using the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) and then picked up by partners who send them by car or by boat to the counties.
According to Bootsma, in total, there are 99 facilities that are helping to get these vaccines into people’s arms. Twenty-three are in Juba, with the rest in the counties.
Vaccination centres like Juba Teaching Hospital vaccinate people from 8am to 4pm.
The vaccination has sofar been successful. Since its inception, atleast gone 384 registrations were done in a day but now, approximately 584 people are registered for the vaccination per day and every day there is an increase in registered numbers of vaccine uptake.
In the beginning, people felt the vaccine was not good but as they got to understand that it is protective and saw that those who had previously received it were healthy, more starting turning up.
Regarding the different conspiracy theories surrounding the vaccines, a one Betty Letti narrates her ordeal. She says “initially I was hesitant to get the vaccine because of the various conspiracy theories about the vaccine, but I was encouraged by my colleagues in the office.” That was for the first dose. For the second jab, she rushed to get it.
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