Globally, COVID-19 vaccination has played a critical role in reducing deaths and hospitalizations from SARS-COV-2 infections.
As of December 2021, Somalia had only fully vaccinated 5.9% of its population against COVID-19, due to the country’s weak and fragile health system combined with unpredictable supply of COVID-19 vaccines, security concerns, lack of operational cost for vaccination programmes and weak immunization delivery system.
When the COVID-19 vaccine supply situation improved in 2022, the Somalian Ministry of Health (MOH) with support of its partners, WHO and UNICEF, developed a plan to accelerate the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines aiming to administer 3.5 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine during a 10 -day campaign in September and October 2022 as part of its effort to achieve their 40% fully vaccination coverage by December 2022. In October 2022 over 5 000 vaccination teams comprising of 37 623 vaccinators, data collectors, and social mobilizers were deployed to bring vaccination services directly to communities. The teams also achieved the increase of coverage of the most vulnerable groups, resulting in 25% of internally displaced people, 25% of urban population, 17% of the rural population and 10% of the nomadic population being vaccinated.
A total of 8 132 773 COVID-19 vaccination doses have been administered since 16 March 2021. Real-time data shows that 37.89% (5 936 922) of Somali people had completed their primary vaccination series against COVID-19 on 31 October 2022 and 14% (2,195,851) of those who received the first dose of the two-dose regimen vaccines, will soon receive their remaining dose. Moreover, during the accelerated COVID-19 vaccination campaign, around 12 000 zero-dose children were identified and received their first dose of childhood vaccines and more than 4 800 pregnant women were vaccinated against Tetanus and Diphtheria (Td2).
Somalia’s remarkable achievement demonstrates that regardless of the challenging conditions faced by countries, those who prioritize health and establish solid partnerships and political commitment are able to achieve a dramatic success in increasing their COVID-19 vaccination coverage.
Author: MERE, Mohammed Osama (WHO EMRO)
Photo credit: WHO EMRO