Freetown 21 December 2022 – Sierra Leone has achieved the global World Health Organization (WHO) target of fully vaccinating 70% of the population against COVID-19 by the end of 2022. The milestone places Sierra Leone among just three other countries in the African region to have reached the target. The 70% target was set by global health leaders with a strategy that outlined the priority actions needed from the different actors to achieve the targets.
“We are here now, but it is not the end. The vaccinations will continue, and we will continue to promote and encourage everyone to get vaccinated; and for the fully vaccinated to get their booster doses because COVID-19 is not yet over,” said Dr Satie Kenneh, Chief Medical Officer of Sierra Leone. while making the landmark announcement.
In March 2021, Sierra Leone launched the first COVID-19 vaccination after receiving the first consignments of vaccines donated to the country through the COVAX Facility and others through bilateral partnerships. Since then, a total of 3 508 653 people over the age of 12 years have fully been vaccinated hence attaining 71.2% of its target population. About 85% of the target population has also now been vaccinated with at least one dose.
Sierra Leone has so far received 7 673 850 COVID-19 vaccine doses since the first shipments, with 71% from the COVAX Facility, 18% from the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust and the rest from bilateral arrangements and donations. So far, 6.3 million doses have been administered, with 71.2% of the target population aged 12 years and above fully vaccinated.
“COVID-19 brought along so many challenges. However, Sierra Leone has been able to handle the response through strong political and technical leadership. That is what has brought us thus far and we are proud to have been part of this success. The experiences and lessons learnt in this process will help guide our response to future health emergencies” said Dr Innocent Nuwagira, Acting WHO Representative in Sierra Leone.
“WHO will continue to support the health security agenda of Sierra Leone by providing the best possible technical expertise in tackling public health emergencies and attaining universal health coverage for the people of Sierra Leone,” Dr Nuwagira added.
WHO in close collaboration with other partners has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 response in Sierra Leone, providing technical, strategic and coordination support, as well as operational and much needed medical supplies and commodities to the government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.
COVID-19 surge vaccination has been one of the main drivers in reaching the 70% fully vaccinated target population in Sierra Leone. A total of 15 surge vaccination campaigns have been implemented by the country, cumulatively accounting for 74.5% of the COVID-19 vaccinations since the beginning of the rollout in March 2021.