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Rwanda: Covid-19 vaccine distributed to 50 hospitals countrywide

Fifty district and referral hospitals across the country on Thursday, March 4, received over 347,000 Covid-19 doses, hours before the vaccination exercise is set to kicks off.

Lavie Mutanganshuro with The New Times Rwanda

Fifty district and referral hospitals across the country on Thursday, March 4, received over 347,000 Covid-19 doses, hours before the vaccination exercise is set to kicks off.

The vaccination exercise is expected to kick-off on Friday, March 5 and at the national level, it will be launched at Masaka District Hospital in Kicukiro District.

The vaccines, which arrived in the country on Wednesday, were acquired under the COVAX Facility, and they are composed of AstraZeneca and Pfizer varieties.

According to the Ministry of Health, the hospitals will distribute the vaccines to 508 health centres in their respective catchment area, who will then start vaccinating a total of 171,480 people identified as high-risk groups on Friday, March 5, an exercise that is expected to last for 48 hours.

The identified priority groups, who will receive two doses each for full protection include; frontline workers, people above 65 years, as well as those with underlying health conditions.

Speaking to the public broadcaster on Thursday, health workers said that they are well prepared to receive and distribute vaccines.

“At hospital level, we are well prepared. The storage facilities are there, and we trained our human resource at the hospital level and community health workers who will do the vaccination exercise,” said Violette Akingeneye, the Director of Kibuye Hospital.

She added: “We have also educated those who will be vaccinated, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Rwanda Biomedical Centre.”

Dr Théobald Hategekimana, Director-General of CHUK (University Teaching Hospital of Kigali) also noted that hospitals are well-prepared.

“We have been preparing to receive these vaccines, and it is proved by the fact that Rwanda was among the first African countries to receive these vaccines.

The World Health Organization first makes sure that a given country is well prepared to receive and vaccinate people,” he said.

According to the Ministry of Health, vaccination teams on standby in district hospitals include staff in charge of vaccine administration, data entry, logistics, as well as monitoring of immediate and long-term side effects.

Good news for health workers

According to Akingeneye, the vaccination exercise is good news for the country at large, and specifically health workers.

She said: “As frontline workers, receiving vaccines is good news. Besides our safety after being vaccinated, vaccinating many people will reduce the number of Covid-19 patients we receive and, therefore, enable us to treat other diseases.”

In addition to batches received by the country through COVAX, Rwanda is set to get other doses through the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) initiative amounting to 2.6 million doses.

The country eyes to vaccinate at least 30 percent of its population by the end of 2021. By the end of next year, government plans to have inoculated at least 60 per cent of the population.

Covid cases

Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, and subsequently the first case to be registered in Rwanda in March last year, 19,198 have been positively identified in the country, and out of these, 17,569 have since recovered.

Over the past year, over a million Covid-19 test samples have been taken in Rwanda.

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