WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. PHOTO: WHO website
WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. PHOTO: WHO website

WHO calls on countries to include the elderly in vaccination plans

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Feb 6, 2021

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DURBAN - WORLD Health Organization Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has called on countries to include the elderly in their Covid vaccination programme.

Ghebreyesus said there was a disturbing narrative in some countries that it's okay if older people die.

"It's not okay. No one is dispensable. Every life is precious, regardless of age, gender, income, legal status, ethnicity or anything else. And that's why it's so important that older people are prioritised for vaccination," he said. Ghebreyesus said those most at risk of severe disease and death from Covid-19, including healthcare workers and older people, must come first and come first everywhere.

He added that all governments had an obligation to protect their own people.

"But once countries with vaccines have vaccinated their own health workers and older people, the best way to protect the rest of their own population is to share the vaccines, so other countries can do the same," Ghebreyesus said.

He said the longer it took to vaccinate those most at risk everywhere, the more the virus is given an opportunity to mutate and evade vaccines.

"Unless we suppress the virus everywhere, we could end up back at square one," he warned.

In South Africa, Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, Professor Barry Schoub, said that the elderly and those with comorbidities must be vaccinated.

"Those are the particularly the high priority groups who should be vaccinated," he said.

SA’s first batch of Covid vaccines arrived on Monday.


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