COVID-19 Vaccination: Bringing us
Since January 2020, there have been nearly 34,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Malawi. In March, Malawi received 512,000 doses of Covishield (the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India) from the COVAX facility, the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, and bilateral deals with other countries. In collaboration with the country’s Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) and other technical partners, we support Malawi’s preparation and introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine. We assisted with the development of the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan and the development of communication and COVID-19 vaccination and surveillance training materials. We are currently supporting the development of COVID-19 vaccination micro plans; national, district, and health facility level trainings, and follow up with districts on daily reporting.
Malawi received its first 360,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine from the COVAX facility on March 5. The ministers of Health, Education, Finance, and senior Ministry of Health officials, officials from UNDP, WHO, UNICEF were at the airport to receive the vaccine. It was a joyful moment.
Hannah Hausi, JSI senior immunization technical officer, was also at the airport in Lilongwe when the vaccines arrived.
Finally the consignment is here. Ready to go!!!!!” – Hannah Hausi
After the vaccines arrived, the EPI, JSI, and partners focused on reaching Malawi’s priority groups for vaccination. In collaboration with EPI and other partners, we supported district teams to use the COVID-19 microplanning tools to identify priority populations to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, including health workers (photo 1), social workers such as military members (photo 2), and those living in congregate settings, including prisoners (photo 3).
As the priority populations were identified, health workers began signing clients up for vaccination using paper-based and digital registers
Through supportive supervision, we reinforce the use of digital registers to promote real-time data collection. We have also identified best practices and challenges, such as the use of personal phones to sign clients up for vaccination when there is a shortage of tablets.
COVID-19 vaccination trainings started after the vaccines arrived in Malawi and are ongoing at all levels of the health system. We support in-person training for health workers on the COVID-19 vaccine, with a focus on district-level and health facility training.
Our staff in Malawi continue to support COVID-19 vaccination at every stage of vaccine introduction through training, information provision, community engagement, and microplanning. We are working to ensure that vaccines bring us closer to ending the COVID-19 pandemic and doing what we love with those we love.