The United Republic of Tanzania has received the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines, delivered through COVAX arrangement. The 1,058,400 doses of the vaccines donated by the United States of America arrived at the Julius Nyerere International Airport.
The US Ambassador to Tanzania, Ambassador Donald Wright handed the vaccines to the Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr. Dorothy Gwajima, during a brief ceremony at the airport.
Present to witness the reception were the Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Hon. Amb. Liberata Mulamula; the WHO Country Representative, Dr. Tigest Ketsela Mengestu; the UNICEF Representative to Tanzania, Ms. Shalini Bahuguna; and other senior government officials.
Emphasizing the need for continued vigilance, the WHO Country Representative, Dr. Tigest Ketsela advised, “while delivery of these vaccines represents a stronger hope to save lives, vaccination does not replace the need for the key preventive measures of frequent hand washing, social distancing, masking, sanitizing, and avoiding gatherings and crowds. We must unleash the entire armour in solidarity to defeat COVID-19”.
The consignment is part of an initial delivery to Tanzania. It is expected that more COVAX deliveries will land in Tanzania in the coming months.
“The vaccines that arrived today and all the vaccines arriving in Tanzania over the coming months, have all been vigorously tested and deemed safe and effective by some of the best vaccine experts in the world. I therefore urge everyone who is offered the vaccine to take it,” said UNICEF Country Representative to Tanzania, Ms. Shalini Bahuguna.
Citing delivery of the vaccines as a continuation of the United States and Tanzania’s 60-year partnership, Ambassador Wright said, “We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic. The U.S. government, via agencies such as USAID and CDC, has invested for decades in strengthening the Tanzanian health system and institutions to be able to respond quickly to urgent needs such as this one.”
The Minister of Health informed the public on the plans to roll out the vaccines in the coming days “we have assured ourselves that these vaccines are safe and we will make them available at health facilities in selected priority regions, free of charge. As we are working to mobilize more vaccines, this first phase of the roll out will prioritize frontline health workers, the elderly (50years and above) and those with chronic illnesses”.
Warning about misinformation, Dr. Dorothy reiterated, “We are aware of the rumors circulating in the social media about vaccines, but I urge you to follow the advice provided by our health experts as credible sources of information. Vaccines are an additional bullet to the public health measures we are promoting in fighting this pandemic”.
“Tanzania has a track record of doing very well with immunization. This COVID-19 vaccine is not different from the other vaccines. Let us embrace the same spirit with these vaccines. We will continue to work in collaboration with partners and nations, because partnership is the way to go”, said Ambassador Mulamula.
COVAX is a global initiative working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization – United Republic of Tanzania.
The Minister for Health together with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, US Ambassador, WHO & UNICEF Reps receiving the vaccines at the airport