The government will return 72, 000 doses of the Covax-facility donated AstraZeneca vaccines to avoid the jabs from getting expired.
Officials at the Ministry of Health say there has been a low uptake of the vaccines – coupled with logistical challenges in rolling out the vaccination exercise.
The doses to be returned are part of the 132,000 vials donated through the UK-based facility in late March this year.
The vaccines are still efficient until mid-July.
But only 16,000 doses have so far been administered – all in Juba city.
“We don’t want to run the risk of it expiring here in our hands,” said Professor Mayen Achiek, the Undersecretary in the Ministry of Health.
“So we are committing back 72, 000 so that they are used by someone who can deploy the vaccines in one week, then once we finish with our sixty thousand, which we are very well ahead, then we can get back that quantity.”
Prof. Achiek said the doses will be taken to countries with high demand for the jabs.
However, South Sudan will be compensated for them after exhausting the available vials.
“Why the uptake has been slow is because of the deployment. Deployment means cost and as the donors that give you food cannot take a spoon and feed you, and were are struggling as a nation,” he explained.
The Ministry of Health has severally announced it will disperse over 20, 000 doses to 23 sites across the country, but the plans have been unsuccessful.
So far, eight thousand people have had the jab put into their arms.
In April, South Sudan’s Ministry of Health sidelined over 60,000 coronavirus vaccines donated by the African Union and MTN over expiry date concerns.
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