Innovating ways to rally communities for the COVID-19 vaccination in Khartoum
Hellatkoko health facility located in Sharg-el-Nil locality is one of the COVID-19 vaccination centres in Khartoum State. In spite of it its strategic location, surrounded by busy markets, automobile repair centres, animal markets and heavily populated areas, the health facility continued to register low numbers of people vaccinated against coronavirus in the locality. The same was the case with other vaccination centres in the state.
Concerned about the trend, the health promotion team at Sharg-el-Nil locality adopted a new strategy targeting people near vaccination centres like Hellatkoko health facility for increased vaccine uptake. This includes the use of mobile vans that go out daily to share information about the vaccine while urging those eligible to go to Hellatkoko health facility to get vaccinated. This is just one of the strategies that the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and the UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) have put in place to increase vaccine uptake around vaccination centres and it has yielded major results. According to the FMoH, vaccine coverage for Sharg-el-Nil has increased from 5.1 per cent to 47.1 per cent since the new strategies were initiated.
The mobile van goes out to the communities at least four times a day. After each mobilisation session, more people are seen coming to the facility for the vaccine. At every stop, especially in congested areas like markets, health promoters share messages specific to the COVID-19 vaccine, its availability, safety, efficacy, eligible persons and the vaccination centres around the locality where it could be administered. Health promoters also respond to questions, address rumours and misconceptions that people may have, while reminding those eligible to go to Hellatkoko health facility to get vaccinated.
“I am suffering from diabetes. Should I also take the vaccine?” a man asked. Fortunately, the health promoters are available to answer his question and encourage him to go to the facility to get vaccinated as he is among the persons being targeted. Persons above 45 years of age with illnesses are among the target population for the COVID-19 vaccine in Sudan. In another case, an elderly man working in a nearby market heard the announcements from the mobile van and realising that he was eligible he was vaccinated.
After the vaccination the people are requested to stay behind for 15 to 30 minutes for observation. As more and more people are reached with the messages, operating hours at the health facility were adjusted to meet the increased demand.
UNICEF and partners continue to support the Government of Sudan to reach everyone with the COVID-19 vaccine by adopting innovating new and unusual techniques. Over 215,000 people in Sudan have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of 18 May, according to the FMoH. No one is safe untill all of us are vaccinated.
UNICEF story, link to the original