Rwanda plans to roll out its second dose of Covid-19 vaccination nationwide on Friday after securing at least 500,000 dozes of AstraZeneca.
In the first phase of vaccination, 290,000 people were vaccinated with AstraZeneca vaccine while 51,000 received Pfizer with a total of 341,000 of its approximately 12 million population having received their first doses.
“Starting on April 2, the second phase of the vaccination programme will get underway, with priority to those who received their first doses,” Rwanda’s Health Minister Daniel Ngamije told a press briefing on Tuesday.
“We are not worried about the quantity of the AstraZeneca vaccines especially for the people who received their first dose. Apart from the vaccines paid for by the government, we are also expecting over 200,000 from the Covax facility.”
By Tuesday, Rwanda had 1,338 active cases of coronavirus and a positivity rate of 2 percent.
However, as it rolls out the second dose, the government is concerned about vaccine hesitancy and misinformation about efficacy.
“The vaccines are meant to help our bodies fight the virus, leave alone the first shot even the second (one) doesn’t assure us of normalcy. The only weapon against this pandemic is through observing the preventative measures,” Dr Ngamije said, urging Rwandans to take their second doses.
The government is also on alert as the third wave is ongoing across the region, with Kenya recording a recent spike in infections that forced it into a partial lockdown affecting its capital Nairobi and the most affected counties – Kajiado, Machakos, Nakuru and Kiambu.
Rwandans have been urged to be vigilant ahead of the Easter Holidays and the forthcoming Genocide commemoration.
“We have countries in the region that have started recording a spike in cases, a similar thing happened to our country in August last year. This should only remind us that this is a collective effort,” Dr. Ngamije said.
Rwanda’s nationwide vaccination kicked off on March 5, with the country prioritising high-risk groups, including frontline workers, elderly people above 65 years, and people living with underlying conditions and disability.
It received 240,000 doses of AstraZeneca and 102,960 Pfizer from the Covax facility, a global initiative to ensure equitable access to the Covid-19 vaccines on March 3rd and 4th, and received an additional 50,000 AstraZeneca doses donated by India, bringing the total to 392,960 vaccines.
Rwanda is targeting to vaccinate at least 30 percent of the approximately 12 million population by the end of 2021 and 60 percent in 2022. The country is in talks with partners and governments to acquire more vaccines to meet its target.