“Leaving no one behind” – Cross River targets refugees for COVID-19 vaccination | WHO

Calendar, 2 July 2021 – Few months since the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX facility, the global initiative to ensure equitable vaccine distribution, internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Adagom refugee community in Cross River State received their first dose of the Astra Zeneca vaccine as part of the drive to leave no one behind in the fight against the pandemic.

Mr Elias Tako, the Chairman Adagom Refugees community, was not hesitant to receive the vaccine saying the vaccine will protect everyone against the virus.

“I am here today to encourage others to take the vaccine, especially those hesitant due to misinformation. I am urging them to disregard the rumors and consider the benefits of the vaccine. Meanwhile, I appreciate the Cross River State Government, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for the opportunity to receive our first jab”, he added. 

Vaccination is one of the pillar of the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, but most refugees who are part of the vulnerable groups faced with vaccine inequity. Refugees are people who have fled war, violence, conflict or persecution and have crossed an international border to find safety in another country. 

In Cross River, more than 57,000 refugees live in different host communities across the state. To ensure that everyone had access to the vaccine, the State Primary Health Care Development Agency (CRSPHCDA), supported by WHO, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), leveraged on the commemoration of the World Refugee Day 2021 to vaccinated over 50 refugees in the high risk group at Adagom refugee camp Ogoja. 

At the initial stage of introducing the COVID-19 vaccine to the state, there was a high rate of hesitancy among the refugees and host communities. However, after many sensitization campaigns, there has been an improvement in the uptake of vaccines among the populace. 

Considering that refugees are priority groups for COVID19 vaccination, WHO supported CRSPHCDA to deploy a state-wide sensitization campaign and chose World Refugee Day to get UNHCR staff vaccinated to orient the refugees on the safety of the vaccines, sensitize them on the importance of COVID 19 vaccines and get them vaccinated.

“Beyond moral obligation, it is a public health responsibility that refugees in Cross River State have equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines”, said Mrs Chisom Emeka, WHO Cross River State Coordinator (SC).

“The pandemic will only be brought under control when vaccines are available on an equal basis to all people. Safeguarding the health of IDPs protects their host communities and societies. Therefore, it is not in the interest of any community, state or for the world at large to have people falling through the cracks, marginalized, exposed and unprotected”, SC added.

Appreciating the collaborating agencies, the Director-General of CRSPHCDA, Dr Janet Ekpenyong re-echoed the need for everyone to receive the vaccine to curb the spread of the virus. 

The DG urged those who had taken the first dose to present themselves for the second jab and advised people to shun away rumors regarding the vaccine while assuring them that the vaccines are safe and effective.

According to her, over 46,000 eligible persons have taken their first dose of the vaccine, and 23,128 have received their second dose so far in Cross River State.

Commemorating this year’s World Refugee Day 2021, CRSPHCDA partnered with WHO, UNHCR and UNICEF to deliver on one the Social Capital Development (Equitable Quality Basic Services).

On 02 March 2021, Nigeria received 3.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and subsequently distributed to States. Cross River State took delivery of 53,840 doses Oxford/AstraZeneca via the COVAX Facility. COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), working in partnership with UNICEF, the World Bank, civil society organizations, manufacturers, and others. The 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. 

Technical Contacts:

Dr Jean Baptiste, Anne Eudes. Email: jeana [at] who.int; Tel: +234 813 173 6281

Dr Emeka Chisom; Email: cemeka [at] who.int; Tel: 

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