Somalia Receives 108,000 COVID-19 Vaccines

108,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines donated by France arrive in Somalia. (Photo:UNSOM)

Some 108,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Mogadishu Sunday.

The French Ambassador to Somalia Aline Kuster-Menager said the much-needed doses would ensure the safety of the Somali people.

“The Government of France is committed, along with the EU and COVAX partners, to help Somalia bolster vaccination efforts so that additional frontline workers and other high-risk populations in Somalia can be protected from COVID-19,” Kuster-Menager said.

The French donation is part of the 60 million doses pledged by President Emmanuel Macron to give to countries struggling to access vaccines in the global market and help contain the spread of the COVID-19.

Somalia has fully vaccinated at least 92,000 people. Since the virus outbreak in March 2020, the country has recorded 15,300 cases and at least 780 deaths.

Somali health minister Fawziya Abikar Nur called on people to get vaccinated.

“The arrival of this new batch of COVID-19 vaccines comes at a critical time, as cases in Somalia are on the rise,” Nur said. “The only way to stop the spread of the virus is to get the population vaccinated. We are grateful for this latest donation from the Government of France and I call on all those eligible to get vaccinated.”

Somalia received 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca March from the international COVAX vaccine initiative.

The country’s ministry of health said that it would continue to prioritize frontline health and other essential workers, the elderly, and people with chronic health conditions in this next phase of the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Mohamed Ayoya, UNICEF Somalia Representative, said “this timely support will be critical in increasing the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19, particularly the health workers so they can continue to provide essential health care for Somali children and their families.”

The World Health Organization and the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said it would also continue to promote the safety and uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO Representative to Somalia, said people taking vaccines is the only way to end the pandemic.

“If we can end the pandemic in Somalia, we can end it everywhere. The country’s fragile health system, a high number of its population, especially the high-risk people, still to be vaccinated can make the virus more transmissible and we risk the emergence of a new variant of the virus in the country if we cannot roll out the vaccination programme against COVID-19 with speed and scale. The vaccines against the COVID-19 are remarkably safe and effective,” Malik said.