More than 10,000 traders and residents who received the first dose of Ebola before Covid-19 in the country are set for a second one to complete the dose.
Rwanda last year started voluntary Ebola vaccination programme at all its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly virus from its neighbour.
This was in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines which recommended all countries in high-risk areas, even if not hit by Ebola, to use a new vaccine developed by US group Johnson & Johnson.
“Before coronavirus, we had vaccinated over 32,000 people with about 21,000 receiving the full dose of Johnson & Johnson Ebola vaccine,” said Dr Etienne Karita, head of Biomedical Services and Co-Principal Investigator of the Umurinzi Ebola vaccination Program at Rwanda Biomedical Centre.
“Vaccination activities continued in the two weeks from when Rwanda reported the first case of coronavirus. But the campaign stopped when the government imposed lockdown and movement restriction measure to prevent the spread of the virus,” says Dr Karita.
“Priority was given to Covid-19 because it was spreading at a high rate but another related measure to prevent Ebola ensured apart from vaccination which required people to travel from their homes or gather at the health centre for vaccination,” said Dr Karita.
He said that activities to give the second dose of the vaccine to those who had got the initial vaccine before the outbreak have resumed since the government has allowed people to travel but within their provinces.
“We will start with people who were supposed to get the second dose of the Ebola vaccine, and people seeking for the initial dose of the vaccine will later be considered,” said Dr Karita.
However, as the health ministry says the priority is those who had got the first vaccine of the Ebola virus, residents that remotely talked to Rwanda Today said they are still at the risk of contracting the disease if not vaccinated early.