One year ago today, Liberia received its first COVID-19 doses from the COVAX Facility and launched vaccinations on 1st April 2021 To date, 1,124,277 people have been fully vaccinated, and efforts are ongoing to increase vaccine uptake to reach a wider proportion of the targeted population.
Since the first shipment, the country has received 2,862,390 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, 48%of these from COVAX, 19% from the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust, and 32% from bilateral arrangements and donations. Of these, 1,242,545 million doses have been administered, and 24% of the total population has been fully vaccinated.
Liberia, like other Low in-come countries, received the first tranche of vaccines a year after the pandemic began and at a time when there were a lot of myths. This did affect the initial uptake of the vaccines by the citizenry. With support from donor partners, the Ministry of Health engaged various stakeholders, including religious, traditional, and civil society leaders, in taking the correct vaccination messages to the people at the right time. Over time the attitude of the citizenry towards vaccines changed.
“Despite the major challenges with vaccine supplies, the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health, has made great efforts to increase the vaccine uptake, including expanding vaccination sites, ensuring effective use of available stocks, mobilizing communities, and addressing doubts and misinformation,” said Dr. Peter Clement, WHO Representative in Liberia. “WHO congratulates Liberia on getting this far and will continue to support the government and its partners to achieve its goals.”
To increase vaccine uptake, the country is undertaking mass vaccination activities at both community and national levels. The Ministry of Health with support from WHO and other partners, including USAID and African CDC, has embarked on a national mass COVID-19 campaign that commenced on 17th March 2022 till 24th April 2022 in all 15 counties across the nation. WHO is supporting 6 of the 15 counties. The vaccines being administered also include Pfizer which is earmarked for children aged 12 to 17 years- all in an effort to ensure that all eligible age groups get the protection needed against COVID-19.
These efforts are paying off, with 391,142 vaccines doses having been administered since 17th March 2022, accounting for 13% of all vaccines administered since the beginning of the rollout.
WHO continues to support the country to scale up COVID-19 vaccine uptake, which will hopefully limit the emergence of variants, as well as step up surveillance, genome sequencing capacity, increasing testing to facilitate early detection and response to any clusters of cases. WHO is also continuing to support the efforts of the government in adjusting to the public health and social measures given the current trajectory of the epidemiological situation.