Rwanda: Rollout on course at first dose milestone, confidence evident

Tuesday March 23 2021

A senior citizen receives her jab. Almost two weeks after Rwanda started vaccinating high-risk groups, no major adverse side effects have been recorded so far, according to the Ministry of Health. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA

By Ange Iliza

Almost two weeks after Rwanda started vaccinating high-risk groups, no major adverse side effects have been recorded so far, according to the Ministry of Health.

Already, 317,708 Rwandans had received their first Covid-19 jab as of Tuesday, March 16.

The vaccination process involves a 15-minute wait after receiving the vaccine for immediate monitoring in case of adverse side effects.

The Ministry of Health has established teams of professional health care workers in all districts to follow up and address any issues regarding Covid-19 vaccine side effects.

Mild headache

Some of the vaccinated people experienced mild symptoms like headache and pain at the injection area that vanished a few days after.


Gloria Uwamahoro who works at a hotel in Muhanga district, South, received her first jab a week ago.

At first, she had a headache but didn’t know it was associated with the vaccine until her colleagues mentioned they also had it.

“It vanished a day after and it was not serious. Some of my workmates did not feel anything from the vaccine,” she recounts.

Edith Mukashema also received the vaccine almost two weeks ago. She experiences terrible pain in her arm at first but it vanished the next day.

Mild side effects such as headache, weakness and pain in the area of injection, are said to be mild and harmless.

Vaccinated people are advised to take enough drinks after the injection to avoid getting weakened by the shot. According to the WHO, no serious health threats have been recorded caused by the vaccine.

The priority groups that received the vaccination included health care workers, teachers, drivers, traders, elderly above 65 years old and the people above with underlying health conditions, security guards, religious personnel, truck drivers, sports people, and journalists, among others.

President Paul Kagame and the first lady also received the jab.

Christian Ngendahayo, a medical doctor who also received the vaccine did not experience any side effect.

As he waits for the second dose, he is now working with more confidence with no fear to catch the virus and spread it to patients.

The time line has remained as set by the Health ministry since the first doses were received March 3, 2021.

Positivity rate

Vaccination was rolled out two days later on March 5.

Of the doses received: 240,000 SII-AstraZeneca (COVISHIELD) vaccine and 102,960 were from Pfizer.

After Rwanda received almost 400,000 doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine from Covax Facility and India’s donation, high-risk groups, and frontline workers have received their first doses of the vaccines.

They include healthcare workers, traders and drivers, elderly people aged above 65 years, people living with an underlying health condition, teachers, journalists, sports and religious personnel, among others.

As of Tuesday, March 16, the country had 1,326 active cases, and the positivity rate stood at 2.6 per cent.

The first phase beneficiaries were: Health workers, People aged 65 and above, people living with chronic health conditions, People Living With Disabilities, teachers, security personnel, airport staff, service providers (hospitality/ tourism industry), government officials, journalists, refugees, prisoners, motorcyclists, taxi drivers, market vendors.

The country was allocated 744,000 of the SII-AstraZeneca and 102,960 Pfizer-BioNTech for a population size of 12.63 million (World Bank estimates).