Africa steps up targeted COVID-19 vaccination of most at risk people.

Africa is intensifying COVID-19 vaccination of high-risk population groups with some promising signs. Nearly 50% of health workers and people over the age of 60 are fully vaccinated against the virus in countries reporting data to World Health Organization (WHO).

The data from June 2022 from 31 countries reporting on COVID-19 vaccinations of high-risk groups shows a significant increase compared with the end of December 2021 when only 33% of health workers and 10% of seniors were fully vaccinated. While this is good progress, vaccination coverage, including booster doses, needs to be significantly higher to protect these vulnerable groups.

Only two African countries (Mauritius and Seychelles) have fully vaccinated 70% of their total population. Rwanda is expected to achieve this target by the end of the month based on the pace of its current uptake, bringing to three, the number of countries in Africa reaching the 70% global target by the end of June.

However, Africa has a largely youthful demography, with 45% of the continent’s population under the age of 18. In a bid to use vaccines strategically, most countries are targeting their adult population. WHO is recommending to countries with low vaccination coverage to focus on high-priority groups – health workers, older adults and people with comorbidities. The continent’s coverage of people over 18 years is estimated at 34%, significantly higher than the 18% full coverage in the general population. Nine countries have fully vaccinated more than 70% of their adult population, while 21 have reached more than 40% of adults.

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