KIGALI —Of its 13 million habitants, Rwanda has fully vaccinated 40% against COVID-19 as of 24 December 2021. This coverage milestone puts the country on track for meeting further vaccination global targets set by the World Health Organization.
In May 2021, WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, set three targets of which Rwanda has reached the first of 10% inoculation by September and the second of 40% by the end of 2021. Following this trend, Rwanda is set to reach the third target of 70% inoculation by mid-2022.
“This coverage milestone was not a given at first, but the Government of Rwanda stepped up. As a result, we witnessed a 30% leap forward between September and December alone.” – Dr. Rosette Nahimana, Immunization Programme Focal Point at WHO.
Between September and December, the vaccine supplies improved and over 8 million new doses were administered. The effective decentralized distribution and administration was facilitated by a reinforcement of the vaccine delivery structure from the National COVID-19 Joint Task Force to Health centers where focal points were deployed.
“Through the COVAX facility and AVAT, bilateral cooperations and direct purchase from vaccine manufacturers Rwanda saw its vaccine doses supply tripled in the past three months. A review of the target groups beyond elderly, health care workers and high-risk groups was also instrumental in increasing the number of individuals eligible for vaccination.” Dr. Albert Tuyishime, Head of Disease Prevention and Control Department at RBC.
Among WHO member states, only half have vaccinated 40% of their populations by December. Despite challenges, many countries adopted innovative and flexible vaccine delivery strategies in a bid to get as many doses into arms as possible. WHO is committed to supporting the Government of Rwanda to reach the country’s target.
“Like perfectly oiled machinery, everybody is doing a wonderful job at their level. They are clear about their gaps and how to address them. It is impressive to see the mobilization Rwanda has embarked on from sector level with local leaders who know their numbers, as well as they, know their people. You can tell the coordination goes beyond just vaccination. Rwanda Is clearly on track to achieving national and WHO targets.” Dr. Brian Chirombo, WHO Representative in Rwanda.
Districts with lower vaccine coverage across the country have received further attention from officials, artists, and all sorts of influencers to encourage eligible residents to get vaccinated. Dr. Chirombo visited the Karongi District where, as part of a patronage system to increase vaccine acceptance and uptake, he was assigned to undertake periodical followups for the area. Like a cog within the nationwide cogwheel, he will be doing his part.