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Burundi launches a stifled immunization campaign

Less than 30 people were vaccinated on the 18th of October, 2021 in Bujumbura where the campaign kicked off after jab hold-backs by the Burundi’s government.

Few volunteers received first doses of Sinopharm vaccine offered by the government of China to Burundi after the ministry of public health received 500,000 doses on the 15th of October 2021. Photo/File

Few volunteers received first doses of Sinopharm vaccine offered by the government of China to Burundi after the ministry of public health received 500,000 doses on the 15th of October 2021.

The administration of jab started in the economic capital Bujumbura which has been hit hard by the pandemic with high infections.

“First targeted people are those aged 60 and over, healthcare providers, people travelling abroad along with any volunteer”, said the Minister of Public Health Thaddee Ndikumana. 

However, the first day recorded around 30 people who came for the vaccination as reported by centre’s authorities.

Burundi’s government accepted to be granted the vaccine but rejected any form of sensitization to its population. It refused also to sign any document testifying that the jab’s side effects must be abode by the government.

“The vaccine is welcome and whoever is given green light, however, the government is not to blame for any side-effect”, said Prime Minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni.

“Do not trust these vaccines,” said the P.M Bunyoni a day before. They are still on trial process, even the vaccinated people can contract covid-19 or even die, he added.

People showed no interests in the vaccine due to mis/disinformation in regard to the COVID-19 immunization.

“I have little information about the vaccine”, said J.M. So how should I go to get vaccinated? he asked.

“I heard that there are bad effects of the jab, including losing part of my body and some functionality including sight, vision and my voice,” said Papa Claude.

“I am not ready to become a dumb due to the vaccine”, he also said.

A week after, no data have been made public regarding the number of doses administered, neither from the ministry of public health nor world health organization.

Elsewhere in the region millions of doses have been administered as of the 25th October 2021 according to WHO data including Kenya (4 930 336), Uganda (2 378 171), Rwanda (5 179 627), and South Sudan (127 200).

In addition, Tanzania as of the 13th October 2021, a total of 885 579 people have been vaccinated.

As reported by health officials nearly 20,000 people have been infected in Burundi while 14 people have died.

Globally, according to WHO, around 250,000,000 people were tested positive for COVID-19 and nearly 5,000,000 fatalities as of the 25th of October, 2021.

According to world health organization, the Sinopharm vaccine has been approved as well as other jabs already available.

The WHO representative in Burundi Dr Xavier Crespin said while receiving the vaccine on the 15th of October that those who will be vaccinated twice will be awarded a vaccine certificate.

In effort to halt the spread of the pandemic nationwide, early October, the ministry of public health ordered screening at all entrance roads to-and-from the first and most city Bujumbura.

“Since the first of November, screening centres will be implemented at each national road. Anyone who comes from countryside will have a mandatory test”, said Thaddee Ndikumana in a press conference.

With an average of 1,000 tests per day, 2% of infections and less than 5% of infected people nationwide, the country is still on alert according to Burundi’s WHO bureau.

The immunization campaign is up and rolling. First volunteers register themselves on vaccination website. Thereafter, they get an email giving them a rendez-vous to take the jab.

Only people tested negative for coronavirus are allowed to be vaccinated. Bypassing, pregnant women and teens under 18 are not allowed to take the jab.

In the meantime, countries like Belgium, France, and the USA look forward to bestowing more vaccines to Burundi in future.

Espoir Iradukunda
Data Investigative Journalist


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