On its one year mark of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, the Ministry of Health has launched the vaccination on Saturday, March 13, 2021 across the country. This comes in the nick of time as the spread of the pandemic has reached to 20 percent contamination which is worse than ever.
However, more than seven European countries and recently Thailand have suspended the vaccination over the fear of thrombosis /blood clots/ and some countries have also banned the AstraZeneca vaccination for people aged 65 and plus.
To this regard, Dr. Boureima Hama Ethiopian representative of WHO highlighted that, “reports of blood clots received so far are not greater than the number that would have occurred naturally in the vaccinated population” adding that, “every vaccine has its own side effect, even those we use on simple diseases. The WHO has not yet released the so called side effects in relation to taking the vaccine.”
Dereje Duguma, State Minister of Ministry of Health expressed that so far there are no plans of suspending the vaccination as it is not clear that the vaccine was responsible for the so called side effects. “The safety of the vaccine has been studied in certain clinical trials and confirmed well-tolerated,” said Dereje adding that, “the vaccination will play an integral part to end the serious stage of the pandemic and to that end will continue to give the vaccine.”
However as he said, the ministry is fully organized to following up the whole process and condition of vaccinated population to readily combat any side effects that could come.
To maximize the public health benefit, the national COVID vaccine development plan prioritizes the first doses of the vaccine for health and essential workers and other at risk groups. From the first batch of the vaccine, the ministry has planned to give the priority for more than 300,000 health workers and supporters in the country including interns.
On Sunday, March 7, 2021, the Ministry Of Health had received its 2.2 million doses of the first international deliveries of COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX Facility from the 7.6 million doses of vaccine shipped by Ethiopian airlines. The Ministry Of Health is preparing to receive its entire first quota of 7.6 million doses until the end of April. Even though the quota was said to be nine million doses as reports shows, the number has decreased to 7.6 million doses. According to Dereje, the rest of the doses of the vaccine will be brought in to the country in one month’s time.
During the launching ceremony, Yared Agdiew (MD) head of Eka Kotebe general hospital highlighted that not only have the cases been increasing but also critical patients’ cases have also been rising as well. Similarly, Dereje echoed the same sentiments and told Capital that with 20 percent contamination rate, it is increasingly becoming difficult for hospitals to handle patients with the virus. He expressed that strict measures are being taken to control the spread as the country awaits the better days to come.
“COVID has affected all aspects of our lives. Today, I would like to call upon all of you to spread the message, to create a strong demand for and acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine and be role models for proven COVID-19 prevention measures. It is my firm belief that through our collective efforts, we will be able to beat COVID-19,” remarked Dr Boureima adding that the arrival of the first batch of the vaccine through COVAX provides an effective tool to ends the acute phase of the pandemic.
Government officials have also received the vaccine to be role models to the public. In Somalia region, Mustefe Mohammed head of the region, Mulu Nega head of Tigray region are some notable mentions.
Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation, has the fifth largest number of COVID-19 cases on the continent, after South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.