Over 200 COVID-19 vaccine doses expire

Over 200 COVID-19 vaccine doses expire
Second consignment of COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine at Juba International Airport (photo credit: Sheila Ponnie)

The Ministry of Health has confirmed that 296 AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses have expired as they passed the September 30, 2021 expiry deadline.

The expired vaccines were part of the second batch of the 59,520 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that the country received on September 1, 2021.

The Chief of Planning and Information in the Ministry of Health Mabior Kiir Kudior said they had faced several challenges while carrying out vaccinations.

They lamented the low uptake of vaccines among citizens, especially women who have so far registered only 26.4 percent uptake compared to men that had 73.6 percent.

“There is continued misconceptions and myth surrounding COVID-19 and our people don’t adhere to the vaccine and also people do not have the willingness to take the vaccine,” Kudior explained.

He reiterated that the expired doses shall be returned to the COVAX facilities, saying they will be discarded with permission from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

According to the Ministry of Health, only 35 counties received the AstraZeneca vaccine including Rubkona County in Unity State, Aweil East County in Northern Bahr EL-Ghazal State, Juba, Morobo, Terekeka, and Yei Counties in Central Equatoria State.

In Eastern Equatoria State, Budi, Ikotos East, Kapoeta North, Lafon, Magwi, and Torit counties received the jabs while in Jonglei State, they were Bor South, Pibor, and Pochalla.

In Lakes State, they were Cuiebet, Rumbek Centre, and Yirol counties, in Upper Nile State. In Upper Nile State they were Maban and Malakal counties and in Warrap State they were Tonj South, Tonj North, Twic, and Gogrial West Counties.

For Western Bahr el Ghazal State they were Raja and Wau counties and in Western Equatoria State, Yambio, Nzara, Ezo, Maridi, Tombura, Mundri, Mvolo counties got the vaccine.

“If we sum them up, we [have] 35 Counties that have received the vaccine and the country has over 85 counties of which the other 45 Counties were not given the vaccine,” Kudior stated.

“The 45 Counties did not receive the vaccine [because] this was done according to the balancing that was carried out first we prioritized the accessibility of the areas because accessing the areas is one of the challenges that we face as the ministries and the partners.”

He added that with the availability of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, priority will be given to those 45 counties.

Kudior stressed that the J&J vaccine is taken only once which makes it easier and favorable for the people in far areas.

He urged the media to help to educate the public about the importance of taking the Covid-19 vaccine.