Floods still disrupting COVID-19 vaccination

Floods still disrupting COVID-19 vaccination
A health official holds a dose of the J&J vaccine (photo credit: KPBS)

The Ministry of Health has raised concerns about the impacts of the flooding on the ongoing COVID-19 immunisation in some states.

The raging floods in Unity, Upper Nile, Jonglei and Warrap states that began last year have destroyed most of the infrastructure. This has resulted in massive displacement of people making health workers go an extra length to reach them.

“The floods have destroyed infrastructures including health facilities. For instance, in Jonglei State, the majority of the people have moved to Mangala and the health facilities in those areas are flooded and not functional. There are no people there,” said Dr Angelo Guop, the Manager of Public Health Emergency Operation Centre.

He said people are not able to access the COVID-19 vaccination centres and get vaccinated in most affected areas.

“However, we have tried our best to make sure that we reach to areas we can reach by boats and they were able to deliver the vaccine and in other areas, the vaccinators can walk and take the vaccine [to] the communities,” Dr Angelo said.

World Health Organization COVID-19 Incident Manager in South Sudan Sacha Bootsma said they planned to deliver the vaccines to all counties.

However, she cautioned that the flood has become a major challenge to the campaign and is currently impeding access to some of the counties.

Progress made

“So far 79 per cent of all the Johnson and Johnson doses have been delivered, which means another 21 per cent is yet to be delivered and this is mostly to those counties that have difficult access,” Bootsma said.

She said out of the 250 health facilities, that had been targeted by the ministry of health and WHO for the J and J vaccine, only 66 health facilities have so far launched the vaccination.

 “That means only 28 counties have currently started the vaccination and the data given are coming from the 66 health facilities in the 28 counties. The reason is that some of the doses have not yet been delivered due to the flood,” Bootsma explained.

She said the AstraZeneca vaccine had only 35 counties and now 45 counties need to be supplied with J and J, adding that all those counties need trained health care workers.

“There is quite a logistic challenge to make sure that all those healthcare workers including the vaccinators, people that handle the cold chain, people that do the data entry the recording and the people that do the supervision need to be properly trained. This is taking time,” she said. 

South Sudan’s vaccination has gone to seven states, 15 counties and 35 health facilities as per the data provided by the ministry of health and WHO on  October 31, 2021.