By Aisha Tamba
World Health Organisation regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti has called on all Africans to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as the world marked vaccination week.
Every year, WHO marks African Vaccination Week in the last week of April, in conjunction with World Immunization Week.
This year’s theme, “Long Life for All”, according to the regional director, highlights the life-saving potential of vaccines for everyone, everywhere. “Yet, in Africa, tens of millions of people are still missing out on some, or all, their scheduled immunizations against diseases that have long been eradicated by vaccines.”
She said the week provides on opportunity to showcase the importance of vaccines in all our lives, and how they protect us, young and old, against more than 25 vaccine-preventable diseases.
She urged all countries to ramp up routine immunization and COVID-19 vaccination efforts concurrently, allocating the necessary resources.
She added that maintaining routine immunization services, despite the shift of resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the past two years, is more cost-effective, and will lead to a longer life for all.
“More than a year into the COVID-19 global vaccine rollout, Africa is benefiting – if later than the rest of the world – from the speedy, efficient development of vaccines to curb the virus. There are currently 10 COVID-19 vaccines available through the COVAX Facility, with more in the research and development pipeline.
“Although 480 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Africa to date, making it the biggest vaccine rollout in the history of the continent, only 18.7% of the African population is fully vaccinated – lagging woefully behind the global average of 58%.
“This African Vaccination Week, I urge all Africans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as it’s your turn. I also call on all parents to ensure their children’s routine vaccinations are up to date. It is the best we can do for ourselves, our families, and our communities,” she said.