Rwanda on Wednesday, March 3 received the first Covid-19 vaccines, setting in motion a countrywide immunization exercise that will see at least 30 per cent of the population immunized at the end of 2021.
First to arrive, was the shipment of 240,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India which landed at the Kigali International Airport in the morning hours of Wednesday.
The second consignment of 102,960 doses of the Pfizer vaccine also from the Covax facility arrived the same day in the evening.
Specifically, Rwanda was the first country in Africa to receive the Pfizer vaccine, and the third globally after US, South Korea and Colombia.
The RPF Chairman, President Paul Kagame welcomed the arrival of the vaccines in a Tweet.
“It's been long wait; some better prepared and more ready…not to mention some 'more equal than others' but certainly all of us in urgent need. Now good news to see #COVID-19 Vaccines arrive in Africa starting with Ghana...this morning in Rwanda & more,” he wrote, before thanking Covax, the facility through which the vaccines were delivered.
The vaccination is set to begin on Friday, starting with high risk groups, including health workers, and citizens with advanced age.
With each recipient receiving two doses for full protection, the health ministry said that a total of 171,480 people identified as high-risk groups will be prioritized.
The high-risk groups include frontline workers, people above 65 years, health personnel, as well as those with underlying health conditions.
Rwanda is among the first countries to receive consignment from the Covax facility.
“We are pleased to receive these first AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines through the Covax initiative, and appreciate the partnerships with the UN family, Gavi, funders as well as manufactures that have made it possible,” the Minister of Health, Dr Daniel Ngamije noted.
He added, “We will immediately roll out our prepared vaccination plan, which will see target risk groups across Rwanda receive their first of two vaccine doses. Our target is to vaccinate 30% of our population by the end of 2021 and 60% by the end of 2022.”
The delivery comes almost a year after the WHO first declared the novel coronavirus as a global pandemic and eight months after the launch of the Covax initiative.
Following the arrival of the vaccines, they will on Thursday be dispatched from Rwanda Biomedical Centre to all 508 health centres in the country.
Consequently, the vaccination exercise will be rolled out on Friday, March 5, with respective recipients of the shots being invited directly to their District Hospitals.