Gov’t advised to destroy/return the expired COVID-19 vaccine publicly as only 2,000 vaccinated in Juba
South Sudan Government has been advised to destroy/return the expired COVID-19 vaccine publicly so as to increase the credibility of the ongoing vaccination in the country. According to the COVID-19 incident manager, Dr. Richard Laku, about 2,000 people, mainly health workers have been vaccinated since March 25 that South Sudan received its first consignment of vaccine.
For clarity, there are two vaccines in the country, COVAX and Africa CDC vaccines that were delivered to the country, Africa CDC vaccines has expired and weren’t used. The country is using the COVAX vaccines currently.
It will recalled that on Friday last week, the government confirmed that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine donated by the African Union has expired before being used.
The Manager for Expanded Program on Immunization in the Ministry of Health, George Auzenio Legge explained that the vaccine expired on April 13 and they are not going to use it. The African Union, in collaboration with the MTN Group (a mobile telecommunication company), had donated 59,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to South Sudan.
Though as observed, it appears that the vaccines have a short shelf life. This means that even with the with ongoing COVAX vaccination government needs to sensitize and put proper logistics in place so as to get a larger percentage vaccinated as quick as possible.
The first doses of the 132,000 AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in South Sudan on March 25. They are part of the 2.4 million doses South Sudan requested from COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, known as COVAX.
According to the report seen by NCMP, government is in talk with Africa Union about the expired vaccines, but as many as observed, it is a little difficult to blame the African CDC for expiration of vaccines, instead it is the government that failed to administer the vaccines on time, so the best approach is to negotiate with them to replace the expired vaccines with new batch.
Many are now confused about the ongoing vaccination, some is asking how do I know is not the expired vaccine that I am given? Why is the government keeping an expired vaccine? To clear the air and also make the ongoing vaccination more transparent, the government needs to dispose/ return the expired vaccine publicly so that every South Sudanese is aware that the remaining one is not expired.
We can only hope that the government will do the right. Though destroying it publicly might create a bad public relations and negative blowback from the donors and manufacturers of the vaccines.
But the vaccines can be returned and replaced with a new batch, otherwise this will create more doubt during vaccination.