Just over one year after the country’s first confirmed COVID-19 case, Georgia will receive the first batch of 43,200 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) via COVAX Facility. UNICEF is supporting the Government of Georgia in procuring these vaccines which are expected to arrive at the Tbilisi International Airport on 13 March.
The vaccines will be distributed by the government to all districts over the weekend, and vaccinations are scheduled to start on 15 March. Administration of the vaccines will be based on the priority groups identified by the government, with medical workers among the first priority group. The 43,200 doses will be fully utilized for the first dose. This decision was taken based on the information that the next delivery of 86,400 doses will take place in April and the recommended interval between the injections is 8 to 12 weeks.
In the coming weeks, Georgia will receive 129,600 doses from AstraZeneca. Recently, UNICEF has been asked to support the Government in procuring the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with delivery expected later in March.
“Today is a historic day in Georgia as we are expecting the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines to arrive. UNICEF, along with other partners such as WHO and GAVI, is delighted to support the Government of Georgia in COVID-19 vaccine procurement. Immunization of front-line health workers and vulnerable groups will allow a gradual return to normality. Children have been seriously impacted by the pandemic and we do hope that vaccination will contribute to safe and full access to the services they need. At the same time, we need to continue compliance with prevention measures such as handwashing, physical distancing, and the use of masks”, said UNICEF Deputy Representative Amy Clancy. UNICEF Georgia has been supporting the Government of Georgia in carrying out routine immunization programs and has facilitated engagement with COVAX on COVID-19 vaccines upon the request of the Government.
As the largest vaccine buyer in the world, procuring more than 2 billion doses annually for routine immunization and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries, UNICEF is coordinating and supporting the procurement, international freight, and in-country distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for the COVAX Facility.
COVAX is part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. COVAX is co-led by the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), working in partnership with UNICEF as a key implementing partner for vaccine procurement and delivery.
The goal of the COVAX initiative is to provide nations with equitable and affordable access to safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19, regardless of their income level. It is an international solidarity mechanism set up for the benefit of 92 low- and middle-income countries to collectively and effectively combat the COVID-19 pandemic.