Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 June 2022:
Last week, Somalia reached the 10 percent (two doses) COVID-19 vaccination milestone, which means that the country is no longer in band of countries with least vaccination rates. The milestone is a result of continued and resilient efforts by the government and stakeholders to sustain commitment to COVID-19 vaccination amidst prevailing social economic turbulence.
Somalia started COVID-19 vaccination in March 2021, upon receiving 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX Facility, to protect frontline workers and elderly people with chronic health conditions. COVAX is the major supplier of COVID-19 vaccines to Somalia and the African continent. In Somalia, COVAX has delivered about 7.79 million doses of vaccines as of 24th June.
These vaccination efforts have been supported by several strategies undertaken in partnership with stakeholders – including carrying out regular awareness campaigns, incorporating COVID-19 vaccination in routine immunisation campaigns as well as innovative approaches to reach far flung parts of the country such as mobile vaccination services.
Thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Health in growing capacity over recent years, Somalia is now implementing oral cholera, polio, and measles campaigns, alongside COVID-19 vaccination.
Dr. Richard Mihigo, Director of COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery, Coordination and Integration at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which leads on procurement and delivery at scale for COVAX, comments on this milestone: “Somalia has now reached 10% of its population with two doses of COVID-19 vaccines. This milestone is hugely significant given the political conditions in the country and the fact that the health system is already stretched thin.
“What is equally important is that the country has been able to maintain routine immunisations as well, with the same number of routine vaccines administered as COVID-19 vaccines. Through the COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partnership, Gavi, UNICEF and WHO, along with partners such as the African Union and World Bank are providing coordinated, tailored support to governments focusing on urgently overcoming delivery bottlenecks to turn vaccines into vaccinations. COVAX will continue to support efforts in Somalia and across the continent – with enough supply available, we must seize this opportunity to achieve vaccine equity.
“We congratulate the country for the commitment to further and look forward to continue working together to protect the people of Somalia from COVID-19.”
In January 2022, 34 countries were below 10% coverage with two doses of COVID-19 vaccines. With Somalia’s milestone today, that number is 16.
Over 632 million doses have been delivered by COVAX to the African continent, supporting vaccination efforts in 46 countries.
In total, COVAX has now shipped over 1.5 billion COVID-19 vaccines to 146 countries across the world. Nearly 90% of these have been fully funded doses delivered to lower-income countries supported by the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has been supporting immunization in Africa since 2000. Read about the impact of our work in Africa here and our work in Somalia over two decades, here.