Sri Lanka reached an important milestone yesterday (September 18) with 50% of the population fully vaccinated, surpassing vaccination goals set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate has been the chant for the pandemic response. This is based on the science of vaccines and global evidence that COVID-19 vaccines can protect against severe disease as well as limit the transmission of the virus, the WHO says.
WHO has called for all countries to vaccinate 10% of their population by the end of September and 40% by the end of the year.
Issuing a press release, WHO says that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s ‘ambitious vaccination effort’ that spearheads Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 response has long surpassed WHO’s targets. It is also likely to surpass its own target of vaccinating 60% of the population by 31 December, the WHO predicts.
The press release reads, “At the center of this success is Sri Lanka’s strong primary health care foundation. This has been adapted quickly for COVID-19 vaccine readiness in a whole of Government and whole of society approach. Vaccine deployment was initiated with coverage of frontline workers and then expanded progressively to all over 60 and, now, over 30 years of age.
Further, given vaccine supplies, the expansion of coverage was managed strategically starting with the high-risk geographical area of the Western province and subsequent roll-out to other regions. In the context of the predominance of the Delta variant, nationwide coverage with increasing eligibility will reduce transmissions and severe infections.”
Sri Lanka has used six vaccines – AstraZeneca (Japan), Covishield, Moderna, Pfizer, Sinopharm, and Sputnik. All except Sputnik have WHO Emergency Use License (EUL). So far, Sri Lanka has received 27 million vaccine doses, of which 12.2% were accessed through COVAX AMC.
“Of course, vaccines alone are not enough – to quote the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros, we must do it all: get vaccinated, wear masks, disinfect and observe social distancing and avoid the 3Cs (crowed places, close-contact settings, confined and closed places). Compliance with public health and social measures is an individual responsibility to reinforce the collective vaccination achievement,” WHO release concluded.
50% of all #SriLankans are fully vaccinated against #COVID19. Thank you @MoH_SriLanka, #GoSL, and all of the healthcare workers, frontline workers, volunteers, and communities who made reaching this great milestone possible 👏👏👏
— WHO Sri Lanka (@WHOSriLanka) September 18, 2021