Burkina Faso on Wednesday launched its COVID-19 vaccination drive, first offering the jab to the vulnerable, health workers and others in the frontline of the battle against the pandemic.
Around 200 doctors, nurses and other medical staff received the first jabs at a medical site in the south of the capital Ouagadougou.
Health Minister Charlemagne Ouedraogo, Sports Minister Andre Nana and Armand Roland Pierre Beouinde, mayor of the capital Ouagadougou, also received the AstraZeneca vaccine, encouraging others to be “vaccinated without any danger”.
“This vaccination campaign complements the system put in place in response to COVID-19. We encourage those people targeted in this first phase to get vaccinated,” the health minister said.
Burkina Faso is one of the last countries in West Africa to begin its coronavirus vaccination campaign.
The first tranche of vaccinations for the general public will go to the over-55s and those with existing health conditions that put them more at risk, including diabetes and renal problems, Ouedraogo said.
In the first phase, 92,000 doses will be administered to health professionals and around 20,000 people planning to go on pilgrimage to Mecca, the health ministry said.
Burkina Faso received on Sunday its first delivery of 115,200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, financed by the global vaccine-sharing facility.
The poor landlocked West African nation will initially vaccinate three percent of the population, rising progressively to 20 percent, or around 3.5 million of the over 20 million residents.
With help from partners, it hopes to eventually vaccinate half the population.
Since mid-May, the country has registered four new COVID-19 cases per day.
The official totals since COVID was first found in Burkina Faso, in March 2020, are 13,435 confirmed cases and 167 fatalities.