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One in five health workers fully vaccinated in low-income countries

Fewer than one in 10 healthcare workers in low and middle-income countries such as Nigeria have been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic compared to 80 percent of personnel in 22 high-income countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said on Monday.

In a joint statement on WHO’s estimates of health and care worker deaths due to COVID-19, the Steering Committee for the International Year of Health and Care Workers in 2021 called for immediate intervention to protect health and care workers from the impact of the pandemic.

Concerns were raised over deaths that have occurred as a result of the low rate of vaccinations and the vaccines inequities among health and care workers in low- and middle-income countries.

According to WHO estimates, about 80, 000 to 180 000 health and care workers could have died from COVID-19 in the period between January 2020 to May 2021, aggregating to a medium scenario of 115 500 deaths.

As of September 2021, available data from 119 countries suggest that two in five health and care workers were fully vaccinated on average, with considerable differences across regions and economic groupings.

Read also: Nigeria lifts 7-day self-isolation for fully vaccinated passengers

The committee urged that governments strengthen data collection and reporting on infections, ill-health, and deaths among health and care workers due to COVID-19.

It also called for increased protection of workers during and beyond the current global COVID-19 pandemic; and acceleration of the vaccination of all health and care workers in all countries.

“Failure to take action undermines the physical, mental, and social well-being of those individuals we depend upon to manage the pandemic. Recognition and commemoration are not enough. It is our moral obligation to protect and invest in health and care workers. And we must move forward together,” the statement read.

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