Coronavirus – Togo vaccinates more than 90% of health workers against COVID-19
When Togo launched its COVID-19 vaccination campaign on March 10, health workers on the front lines of the pandemic were identified among priority groups.
âI was scared at the start, especially because we were the first to be vaccinated,â says Kossi Nouwossan, physiotherapist at the ZÃ©bÃ© psychiatric hospital, about 40 km east of the capital LomÃ©. “But since I am in constant contact with patients, I also felt it was the responsible thing to do to protect myself and others.”
Nouwossan was one of 33,090 health workers who received their first dose of the vaccine between March 11 and 13, nearly 95% of all health workers in the country. A total of 30,867 of these caregivers, or about 93%, received their second dose between May 18 and 21. In doing so, they helped Togo meet one of the main goals of its vaccination plan just five months after the start of the campaign.
This has seen a significant reduction in the number of health workers infected with COVID-19, bolstering the country’s response to the pandemic. Between March 7, 2020, when Togo detected its index case, and May 24 of this year, nearly a thousand health workers tested positive for the virus. Since the end of May, after the vast majority of them received their second dose of the vaccine, only 56 infections of health workers have been recorded.
The rapid and efficient deployment of vaccines in Togo to date has been facilitated by a substantial supply of doses through the COVAX facility, which aims to ensure equal access to vaccines for all. The country received 196,000 doses of AstraZeneca through the facility in March, followed by an additional 100,620 doses of Pfizer in May. The African Union also provided 120,000 additional doses of AstraZeneca on March 31 and China 200,000 doses of Sinovac on April 23.
The preparatory work done upstream of vaccine delivery has also contributed to Togo’s success so far. âBefore starting the vaccination campaign, we organized a number of sensitization sessions for health personnel at all levels and in all regions of the country with substantial input from the Minister of Health and other health experts. health and science, âsaid Dr JosÃ©e Apetsianyi, coordinator of Togo’s technical working group for vaccine deployment.
âIt helped dispel all the negative rumors that were circulating about the vaccine and created a strong bond between health workers so that they not only get vaccinated, but also encourage others to do so. “
The Togolese government has also decentralized the vaccination campaign in order to make it as widely accessible as possible, by installing vaccination units in almost all health centers in the country, as well as in football stadiums, markets and areas to heavy traffic.
The country intends soon to open vaccinations to all people over 50 in the greater LomÃ© region, who will then be followed by people aged 20 to 40 with co-morbidities, also in greater LomÃ©, and finally those of over 30 years.
âI was vaccinated to protect myself during my work in the response to COVID-19, but also to protect my family,â explains Dr. Talboussouma Prisca, chief doctor at the AmoutivÃ© health center in LomÃ©.
âThis is a new disease and we are often the first to come into direct contact with infected people. For me, it goes without saying that we should get vaccinated, and I had no qualms about doing so. “
âTogo has implemented a good vaccination strategy as part of its continued response to the pandemic, engaging a range of actors from different sectors to help raise awareness and mobilize people,â said Dr Fatoumata Binta Tidiane Diallo, representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the country. in Togo.
âWe have worked closely with the government every step of the way and we are already seeing tangible results. We hope this continues. “
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the WHO Regional Office for Africa.