Rwanda fully vaccinates close to half its population

A woman receives the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Kigali, Rwanda, on August 23, 2021. (Xinhua/Cyril Ndegeya)
A woman receives the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Kigali, Rwanda, on August 23, 2021. (Xinhua/Cyril Ndegeya)

Rwanda says it has fully vaccinated nearly half of its population, after announcing a major COVID-19 vaccination campaign late last year. Nearly 6 million people have received their jabs out of a population of nearly 13 million.

The discovery of the Omicron variant in the country in December spurred on a more aggressive effort by health authorities to administer vaccines, including providing jabs at schools and the establishment of mobile injection sites.

The government says it hopes to vaccinate 9 million people against the virus by June. In addition to vaccines, Rwanda’s anti-COVID-19 measures include a 10 pm curfew, with bars mandated to close at 8 pm.

Rwanda was among the few countries in Africa that achieved the World Health Organization (WHO) target of vaccinating 40 percent of the entire population by December 2021.

As 2021 came to a close, 80 percent of the population aged 12 years and above receive at least one vaccine dose against the virus.

“The government of Rwanda is working hard to ensure that we acquire the needed vaccines and inoculate as many people as possible,” said Daniel Ngamije, Rwandan Minister of Health during a phone interview in December.

Rwanda has also started administering COVID-19 booster shots to those who have spent three to six months after receiving the second dose.

In order to achieve its vaccination target, Rwanda drew a vaccination plan prior to getting the vaccines.

The plan has a priority list of high-risk groups like the frontline workers in the health and security sectors, teachers, refugees, inmates, and people aged 65 and above, as well as those with underlying medical conditions.