JUBA, 4 May 2021 – The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned against COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among citizens of South Sudan.
WHO on Tuesday encouraged government officials, media professionals, and doctors in the country to educate the public on the merits of taking the jab.
As many as 60,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine donated to South Sudan by the African Union (AU) via the global initiative, COVAX, expired last April 13 before they had been used.
South Sudanese health ministry has said it does not intend to use the expired vaccines, arguing in a statement last week that the “only option available was to dispose of them”.
Both the World Health Organization and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that the vaccines remain safe and should be used.
WHO has reassured countries with so-called expired COVID-19 vaccines that the habs remain valid for 36 months after the expiry date marked on the vials or ampoules.
As of Tuesday, only 4,000 people – mostly healthcare workers and some elderly people – in South Sudan have been vaccinated against the new coronavirus.
The vaccine hesitancy in South Sudan is such that WHO officials fear that the 132,000 doses already delivered to South Sudan will not be used to launch mass vaccination campaigns before they hit the expiry date of next July 18 inscribed on the vials or ampoules.