(Ecofin Agency) - Benin has received the first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine as part of the Covax initiative. In an official statement yesterday, the government reported the arrival of 144,000 doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine transported from India by Unicef.
“We are very happy to receive these first doses of vaccines against covid-19 through the COVAX initiative. The receipt of the vaccines marks a turning point in the national response to the pandemic. We are confident that with these vaccines, our efforts to protect the population against the virus will be strengthened,” said health minister Benjamin Hounkpatin.
Benin is expected to receive a total of 792,000 doses of vaccine by May 2021, under the Covax program. The initiative will enable the country to carry out its vaccination campaign, the starting date of which is yet to be known. The first doses will be administered to health workers, but also people over 60 years of age and those with comorbidities.
However, the success of the campaign, which aims to reach 20% of the population, could be hampered by the population's reluctance to be vaccinated. Without denying the existence of the disease, the population remains sensitive to rumors concerning the possible negative effects of vaccines on health.
An awareness campaign on the importance of the vaccine needs to be carried out before the actual vaccination campaign, according to Dr. Antoinette Eya Awaga, Country Manager of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance. “To ensure that the pandemic is behind us, we need to maintain a sense of urgency and a spirit of partnership so that countries' immunization campaigns are successful, health systems recover and livelihoods are restored,” she said.