Cabo Verde: Health workers inoculated as rollout to begin with Pfizer doses only

The Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19 is on Thursday administered to six health professionals in Praia, ahead of the official start of Cabo Verde’s national vaccination campaign on Friday, exactly one year after the pandemic arrived in the archipelago.

According to a government official, the administration of the vaccine for the first time in the country is being carried out at the Achada de Santo António Health Centre in the capital at 10 a.m. local time (11 a.m. in Lisbon), with six health professionals being inoculated with doses from the first box opened. The first person to be vaccinated was the oldest nurse working in the health unit.

Cabo Verde on 12 March received 24,000 doses of the vaccine from Anglo-Swedish manufacturer AstraZeneca and two days later 5,850 doses of the Pfizer product. With the national vaccination rollout to start on Friday, the government has set a target of covering 70% of the population by the end of this year.

However, for now only the Pfizer vaccine will be used, as the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been suspended, pending clarification on possible side-effects, the minister of health, Arlindo do Rosário, announced this week.

“The precautionary principle dictates that the doubts that have been raised should be fully cleared up,” he said. “On the 19th [March], as planned, we will begin the vaccination of health professionals who are on the frontline of the fight against SARS-CoV-2 with the Pfizer vaccine.” 

The doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine received in Cabo Verde are part of a total of 108,000 to be provided to the country under the COVAX initiative, founded by the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure an equitable distribution of vaccines against Covid-19.

However, in recent days several countries have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, citing reports of serious reactions in people who had been vaccinated.

As do Rosário stressed, both the WHO and the European Medicines Agency have said that so far no link has been found between the vaccine and the cases of blood clotting that have been reported.

While awaiting clarification on its safety, he said, the Ministry of Health, in conjunction with the Independent Health Regulatory Authority (ERIS), “will closely monitor developments in the situation” and “make the necessary recommendations to the government in order to allow a properly considered and responsible decision before starting with the application of the vaccine.”