Burundi finally launched the COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Monday, months after most African countries, reported The BBC. The vaccination began after the government received 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine.
The vaccination campaign began in the commercial capital, Bujumbura, on Monday. The vaccine is being given on a voluntary basis. So far there has been no attempt by the Burundi government to urge people to come forward. It is not yet clear if the population will turn up for the vaccine in big numbers without a publicity drive.
The health workers told The Associated Press that barely more than a dozen people had received doses by mid-afternoon. The ministers of health and security were among the ones who got jabbed.
According to the World Health Organization, now only North Korea and the Horn of Africa nation of Eritrea are left to administer COVID-19 vaccines to their people.
The previous Burundi government under the late President Pierre Nkurunziza had been criticized for taking the pandemic lightly. It’s only after Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye took office in June 2020, that the government stepped up measures against COVID-19 including the mass screening campaign.
In March, Burundian Health Minister Thaddee Ndikumana said that the government would wait rather than give experimental vaccines to its people.
Last week, when receiving the Sinopharm vaccine, Health Minister Ndikumana said that the first phase of vaccination will target health workers, the elderly, and people with incurable diseases. He said each person who will request to receive the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine will receive two doses in order to boost the immunity against the pandemic.
Last week, the WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus had said that Burundi, Eritrea, and North Korea were the only countries that had not yet begin Covid-19 vaccinations.
WHO figures show that some 19,730 cases have been confirmed in the East African nation with 14 deaths.