KIGALI, Rwanda

Rwandan President Paul Kagame was vaccinated Thursday against the novel coronavirus, becoming the first leader in East Africa to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Kagame received the jab at King Faisal Hospital in the capital Kigali, according to the presidency. First lady Jeannette Kagame was also vaccinated.

“As part of the ongoing nationwide vaccination rollout that has seen more than 230,000 people vaccinated, President Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame received their #COVID-19 vaccines at King Faisal Hospital,” the presidency tweeted.

“President Kagame receiving the COVID-19 shot set a good example to Rwandans. It is very crucial at this point when some people, due to little knowledge perhaps, doubt the importance of the vaccine in combating the coronavirus,” Edson Rwagasore, epidemic surveillance response division manager at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre, told Anadolu Agency.

“In terms of awareness, it is a reassurance about the vaccine’s safety for people who still believe in rumors about it,” he added.

Kagame has said that Africa should speak with one voice on the importance of global vaccine equity, both now and in the future.

Rwanda last week launched a countrywide inoculation against COVID-19 of priority groups, among them health personnel, frontline workers, people 65 years old and above and those with comorbidities, after receiving the AstraZeneca-Oxford and Pfizer vaccines through the COVAX Facility.

The Health Ministry said more vaccine shipments were expected to arrive in the country before the end of March.

The ministry has since extended eligibility for inoculation to those above 60 years old.

The East African country targets to vaccinate 30% of its population by the end of 2021 and 60% by the end of 2022.

The government has earmarked $50 million to acquire the needed vaccines to be able to vaccinate about 60% of the targeted population against COVID-19 in the next two years, according to the Health Ministry.

Rwanda had recorded an accumulated tally of 19,846 cases with 18,118 recoveries and 271 deaths as of Wednesday.

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