In December 2021, the Zambia Ministry of Health launched a COVID-19 vaccination campaign in all of the country’s 116 districts with the goal of vaccinating 70 percent of eligible Zambians (12 years and older). By November 2022, Zambia achieved the national target and in early April 2023, the capital city and district of Lusaka also crossed the finish line to 70 percent vaccinated.
Since vaccines first arrived in Zambia in April 2021, the USAID DISCOVER-Health project has worked alongside the Ministry of Health to help Zambia vaccinate and protect its citizens from COVID-19. The project strategically established community vaccination points and worked closely with civic, traditional, and religious leaders as well as popular musicians and performance artists to get people vaccinated.
The vaccination campaigns went beyond administering the vaccine. USAID DISCOVER-Health staff additionally trained Zambian community health care workers. These foot soldiers who are on the frontlines of Zambia’s national vaccination program provided accurate and timely information to encourage uptake of the vaccine among their community members.
Initially, vaccine uptake was low but USAID and the project quickly responded with community-focused strategies that helped dispel rumors and misconceptions while ensuring supply of the vaccine remained available.
Thanks to USAID and the combined effort of DISCOVER-Health, the Ministry of Health, and especially community health workers and leaders, Zambians turned out in large numbers to be vaccinated and more importantly, to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the country from COVID-19.