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COVID-19 vaccination in the WHO African Region - Monthly Bulletin, March 2022

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Summary

Since the deployment of the multi-partner country support teams in January 2022, there has been good progress in vaccine absorption and uptake in the African Region.
Among countries that reported an increase in vaccine uptake in February and/or March, Mozambique, Ethiopia,
Uganda, Kenya and Ghana recorded the highest increase in vaccination coverage. In February and March 2022, Ethiopia implemented the second round of a mass vaccination campaign, which further boosted COVID-19 vaccine coverage in the country, with increased numbers of people receiving their second dose, more people starting with their first dose, and increased uptake of booster doses.
Two countries, Seychelles and Mauritius, surpassed the target of 70% of the population fully vaccinated by the end of December 2021. Four countries – Rwanda, Botswana, Cabo Verde and Mozambique – are on track to reach this target, having vaccinated between 40% and 70% of their populations by the end of December 2021.
However, challenges remain. In the African Region, 12.8% of the population were fully vaccinated as of 27 March 2022 (10.2% at the end of February 2022), compared to 57.5% globally. Thirteen countries are yet to surpass 10% of their population fully vaccinated including two of the most populous countries in the Region (Nigeria and Democratic Republic of the Congo).
The COVAX Facility continues to be the leading source of vaccines delivered in the African Region, accounting for 68% of doses received.
The absorption rate of the vaccines received remains suboptimal overall, with only 54.9% of doses administered of the quantity received. Twentyfour countries out of 46 (52%) have administered fewer than 50% of doses received. Vaccine doses administered increased by 23% in February 2022 compared to January 2022, but in March 2022 the number of vaccine doses administered decreased by 35%.
On average, 8 271 347 doses were administered per week in March 2022 compared to 12 734 357 doses per week in February 2022.
The Region needs a twelvefold increase in the weekly number of doses to be administered from April 2022 to June 2022 to continue to move towards 70% target .
Thirty-one countries out of 46 have reported expired doses. The percentage of expired doses of all doses received was 1.7% among the 31 countries and 0.9% in the African Region overall.
As a result of mass vaccination campaigns, nine countries out of the 20 priority countries in the WHO African Region recorded an increase in doses administered in February 2022 (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, GuineaBissau, Madagascar, South Sudan, Ghana, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania). However, only three have continued to record increased vaccine uptake in March 2022 (Ghana, Cameroon and South Sudan) in addition to Mozambique, Mali and Burundi. This shows that it is necessary to keep up the momentum in vaccine uptake between mass vaccination campaigns. It is critical for countries to intensify activities aimed at promoting continued use of health facility vaccination sites, as well as implement the provider-initiated vaccination approach in health facilities. In January 2022, WHO, UNICEF and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance launched the COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partnership (CoVDP) as an inter-agency initiative. This will build on existing resources globally, regionally and incountry in order to accelerate vaccination coverage in those countries most in need of support. CoVDP complies with the principles of one country team, one plan, one budget and one support team. In March 2022, in-depth country calls were held with Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone to discuss issues around urgent funding requests, and identify sources of funding, enhance operational planning and improve vaccination service delivery. The first quarter of 2022 has shown improvements in vaccine uptake and coverage across the Region, which is benefiting from the deployment of the WHO AFRO multi-partner country support teams, which started in January 2022. Although challenges remain, this initiative, along with CoVDP, promises to continue to improve vaccine absorption and uptake and move more countries in the Region closer to the 70% target.