Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio joined other world leaders on Monday by being publicly vaccinated for Covid-19, and urged all citizens to follow his example and receive jabs.
“I will take the leadership in receiving the vaccine,” said Bio. “You should all try to be vaccinated as and when the vaccines are available for everyone,” he added, describing the start of the Covid vaccination campaign as a milestone.
Sierra Leone received a donation of 200,000 doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine at the end of February. The country’s first batch of 96,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, supplied through the COVAX facility, arrived in the West African country on 8 March.
The country will receive a total of 528,000 doses by the end of May 2021 through COVAX, as part of efforts to cover 20% of Sierra Leone’s population by year end.
Even with 296,000 doses already delivered, Sierra Leone’s Health Minister Austin Demby said the first phase will only cover 150,000 people, since two doses have to be administered.
Health authorities have prioritized, politicians, frontline health workers, security personnel and those above 70 years old.
The AstraZeneca vaccine was reserved for those over 60 years old and with underlying conditions, and the Sinopharm for those between 18 and 60 years old.
Chief Nursing Officer Mary Fullah administered the vaccine to President Bio closely followed by Vice President Juldeh Jalloh.
Those vaccinated were biometrically registered, and the health minister explained that that the Covid ID could be used for international purposes.
The country recorded one confirmed Covid-19 case on Monday, with a total of 3,958 cases and 79 deaths since the presence of coronavirus in Sierra Leone was first confirmed on 31 March 2020.