The Roll-Out of COVID-19 Vaccinations Staggers in Africa

Date:

The Roll-Out of COVID-19 Vaccinations Staggers in Africa

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Thursday, October 20, 2022.
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • Only 24% of people on the continent had finished their primary immunisation series as of 16 October 2022, compared to 64% of people worldwide.

  • According to data from 27 countries, 31% of older persons (aged 50 to 65, depending on country-set age limitations) had received all recommended vaccinations, up from 21% in January 2022. Vaccination efforts were hampered by poor access to doses in 2021.

  • Africa has seen the lowest number of cases since the pandemic’s beginning over the last 12 weeks.

  • In the affected nations, the outbreaks of polio, measles, yellow fever, and now Ebola have changed priorities.

  • WHO in Africa has launched several initiatives to help countries step up their vaccination efforts.

A World Health Organization (WHO) investigation reveals that COVID-19 vaccination coverage has stagnated in half of the African countries. Between July and September, fewer than half of the monthly doses were given. Despite being far from the worldwide goal of covering 70% of the population by year’s end, Africa has successfully immunised high-risk demographic groups, particularly the elderly.

In 27 out of 54 African nations, according to the WHO data, the proportion of persons who have completed their primary immunisation series (one dose for Johnson and Johnson and two doses for other vaccines) has not changed over the past two months (17 August – 16 October 2022). Furthermore, 23 million doses were administered in September, 18% fewer than the number recorded in August and 51% fewer than the 47 million in July. A third of the peak of 63 million doses, attained in February 2022, was also reached in the number of doses administered last month. With 22 million dosages administered as of October 16th, 2022, 95% more than were given in September, there are signs of progress.

Only 24% of people on the continent had finished their primary immunisation series as of 16 October 2022, compared to 64% of people worldwide. Liberia is one of three nations—Seychelles and Mauritius—where more than 70% of the population has received all recommended vaccinations. Additionally, Rwanda is close to reaching this milestone. The number of nations with less than 10% of citizens finishing their primary series has decreased from 26 in December 2021 to five, which is another minor indication of success. Despite these successes, Africa is projected to reach the worldwide goal of 70% of people have finished their primary immunisation series by April 2025 if vaccination rates continue at their current rate.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is nearing its end, but there remains a hazardous vacuum that the virus can exploit to come roaring back,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Africa lags considerably behind the rest of the globe in obtaining broad protection.” “Protecting our most vulnerable populations from the worst consequences of COVID-19 is our top priority. On this front, we are making some headway as nations intensify their efforts to increase coverage among medical professionals, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.

By 16 October 2022, 40% of African health professionals would have finished their primary series, according to data from 31 nations. In place of earlier data that used ILO estimates of the health workforce, the most recent data uses country estimates of population size. In 15 of these nations, compared to 27% at the start of the year, more than 70% of health personnel have received all recommended vaccinations. According to data from 27 countries, 31% of older persons (aged 50 to 65, depending on country-set age limitations) had received all recommended vaccinations, up from 21% in January 2022.

Vaccination efforts were hampered by poor access to doses in 2021. Still, these problems have largely been rectified, with countries now receiving an average of 67 doses per 100 people, up from 13 amounts per 100 at the end of September 2021 and 34 doses per 100 at the end of 2021. 62% of the 936 million vaccine doses given to the content originated from the COVAX Facility.

After a rocky beginning, the COVAX cooperation has guaranteed a consistent supply of COVID-19 vaccinations to Africa, according to Dr. Moeti. We have become victims of our prosperity now. Few people are ready to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine since they no longer dread it because vaccines have helped reduce the frequency of diseases.

With 85% of the doses given in the African region, mass vaccination efforts have significantly increased the coverage of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, fewer people have received vaccinations in recent months while operating costs per person have been steadily rising. Insufficient planning and preparedness, especially at the sub-national levels, are to blame for this reduction in efficacy.

Dr. Moeti stated that COVID-19 immunisation programmes are short operations and are only successful with careful planning. “I urge nations to enhance vaccination campaign preparations to realise our goal of reaching every district.”

Uptake is also hindered by vaccine reluctance and a low-risk view of the pandemic, particularly with the recent reduction in cases. Africa has seen the lowest number of cases since the pandemic’s beginning over the last 12 weeks. Four thousand two hundred eighty-one new cases were recorded in the week ending October 16th, equivalent to 1.3% of the peak of the Omicron-driven surge achieved in December 2021. No country is currently seeing a resurgence or being placed on high alert, while the region continues to experience few fatalities (2.1% of cases).

The dissemination of the COVID-19 vaccine is also impacted by the reaction to numerous public health situations. In the affected nations, the outbreaks of polio, measles, yellow fever, and now Ebola have changed priorities.

WHO in Africa has launched several initiatives to help countries step up their vaccination efforts. These include helping nations assess their readiness for vaccination campaigns at the provincial and district levels, monitoring vaccination rates among priority groups, engaging in high-level advocacy to encourage uptake, assisting nations in integrating COVID-19 vaccines into other mass vaccination campaigns, and sending surge missions to countries to improve vaccination standards.

During today’s virtual press briefing, Dr. Moeti gave a statement. Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, the Liberian minister of health, and Ms. Aurelia Nguyen, a special adviser for Gavi, the vaccine alliance, were present with her.

Dr. Patrick Otim, a health emergency officer with the Acute Events Management Unit at the WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr. Phionah Atuhebwe, a medical officer for vaccine introduction, and Dr. Modjirom Ndoutabe, the coordinator of the polio programme, were also there.

It is distributed by APO Group on behalf of the WHO Regional Office for Africa.

APO has issued this Press Release. The content is not monitored by the editorial team of AUN News, and not of the content has been checked or validated by our editorial, proofreaders or fact-checkers. The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this announcement.

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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