MOGADISHU (SD) – Somalia received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccine Monday morning marking a new milestone in the fight against the global pandemic that has claimed over 300 lives and stretched health facilities to the limit in the Horn of Africa nation.
Health Minister Fazwia Abikar and UN envoy in Somalia James Swan both of whom received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Mogadishu hailed the arrival of the drug but warned against letting down guard.
Dr. Abikar said the government had already trained 2,000 health workers who will kick-start the vaccination exercise on March 16. The vaccines have arrived in Somalia exactly one year since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the country.
The Minister paid tributed to health workers in the country for their efforts in combating the disease that has in the last one month resurged and is fast spreading.
The Ministry of Health reported Sunday the deaths of 18 people as a result of the disease taking the national death tally to 367.
Swan urged Somalis to take the vaccine once they get the opportunity but noted other health measures must be adhered to without fail.
“We encourage people to take the vaccine; we encourage people to continue with all possible preventive measures,” said Swan adding ‘the vaccine will help but it is not the only solution’.
According to Dr. Fawzia, health workers will be the first to be vaccinated followed by the elderly and other vulnerable members of society.
Overall, Somalia is targeting the first three million people for the vaccine.
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