In Benin, the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign has launched
"I am vaccinated. I am protected. I protect others. "
That's the message you can read on the vaccination record card Machad, a health worker in Benin, received. Machad is proud to be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
"Right now, the vaccine is one of the safest ways available to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the virus and prevent the spread of the virus. I encourage all those who are hesitant to go and get vaccinated," said Machad, after receiving his first dose of the vaccine, urging people to protect themselves and their families.
Anicet, a private driver, decided to get vaccinated as he suffers from high blood pressure. "I was diagnosed with high blood pressure a few months ago. With the coronavirus, I am at risk. I'd rather get the vaccine than not get it. There is a greater risk in going around without the vaccine", Anicet said.
Yesterday, in Cotonou, the Government of Benin officially launched the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. The launching ceremony was chaired by two Government Ministers, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Social Affairs and Microfinance. The UN System Resident Coordinator in Benin, Salvator Niyonzima, accompanied by the Acting Resident Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), the UNICEF Representative and The World Bank representative were all in attendance.
Following the official ceremony, the Minister of Health Professor Benjamin Hounkpatin was the very first to receive a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, followed by all government and UN officials, to set an example and reassure the population that the vaccines received in Benin are safe and effective.
"People at risk are health staff, people aged 60 years or over, and people living with co-morbidities such as diabetes, asthma, sickle cell anaemia, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases", the Minister of Health said at the launching ceremony of the vaccination campaign.
This vaccination campaign began with a first batch of 144,000 doses delivered through the COVAX Facility as part of a total number of 792,000 doses to be received by May 2021. The Government of Benin designated 78 sites nationwide to serve as vaccination sites for the first phase.
The United Nations is at the heart of the fight against COVID-19, both up and downstream. Through WHO and UNICEF, has provided the necessary support to the Government in bringing the vaccines to Benin through the COVAX Facility, helping with the logistical arrangements needed on site, training vaccinators, and conducting communications activities.
WHO’s Acting Resident Representative Dr. Mamoudou Harouna Djingarey, on behalf of all partners, took the opportunity to congratulate the Government of Benin for purchasing additional vaccines.
"I would like to commend the Government for having the laudable ambition to plan beyond the COVAX Facility’s vision by aiming to vaccinate up to 40% of the population, and for giving itself the means to achieve this goal with its own funds and by mobilizing additional resources from other local partners," he said.
Mr. Niyonzima, reiterated the UN's support to the Government. "The UN team in Benin will continue to support the Government to accelerate the deployment of its vaccination programme across the country, especially as many other countries are experiencing a new peak of infections due to the spread of more threatening variants of the coronavirus", Mr. Niyonzima said. By getting vaccinated, Mr. Niyonzima wanted to assure the people of Benin that the COVID-19 vaccine is effective.
Produced by the Office of the Resident Coordinator, WHO and UNICEF in Benin. To learn more about the work of the United Nations Country Team in Benin please visit: Benin.UN.org.