COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts: Is Afghanistan Prepared?

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  • 1 Medical Faculty, Herat University, Herat, Afghanistan;
  • | 2 Medical Research Center, Kateb University, Kabul, Afghanistan;
  • | 3 Medical Faculty, Ghalib University, Herat, Afghanistan;
  • | 4 Afghanistan National Charity Organization for Special Diseases (ANCOSD), Kabul, Afghanistan;
  • | 5 Department of Global Health and Development, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom

A country’s preparedness for a prompt and successful implementation of vaccination programs plays a pivotal role in disease control and prevention. As it stands now, Afghanistan seems to be ill-prepared to embrace a successful implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination program because of a spate of challenges. These include, but are not limited to, the insufficient number of vaccinators, a dearth of fully integrated functioning cold chain, challenging geographical barriers, cultural issues, insecurity, and protracted conflict. The COVID-19 infodemic along with vaccine mistrust in the country will lead to a pervasive public vaccine hesitancy in Afghanistan, which will present serious obstacles to the COVID-19 immunization efforts. The politicization of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and the complaints of embezzlement and misuse of the pandemic aid have already eroded public trust during the pandemic. To ensure a large-scale and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the cold chain infrastructure should be strengthened, and the immunization personnel trained. Antivaccination propaganda and misinformation should be tackled with effective communication approaches and effective community engagement, which consider culturally relevant messages appropriate to the culture and people. The allegations of corruption should be addressed to revive public trust in public health interventions, including COVID-19 vaccination.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Attaullah Ahmadi, Medical Research Center, Kateb University, Darulaman Rd., Kabul 1004, Afghanistan. E-mail: attaullah.ahmadi@kateb.edu.af

Authors’ addresses: Mohammad Faisal Wardak and Ali Rahimi, Medical Faculty, Herat University, Herat, Afghanistan, E-mails: faisalwardak1999@gmail.com and dr.rahimi@outlook.com. Attaullah Ahmadi, Medical Research Center, Kateb University, Kabul, Afghanistan, E-mail: attaullah.ahmadi@kateb.edu.af. Shekiba Madadi, Shamim Arif, and Ghulam Ali Nazari, Medical Research Center, Kateb University, Kabul, Afghanistan, E-mails: lomans112@gmail.com, shamim.arif29@gmail.com, and gh.nazari27@gmail.com. Aziz Mahmood Nikbin and Ahmad Tariq Azizi, Medical Faculty, Ghalib University, Herat, Afghanistan, E-mails: aziz_nikbin@yahoo.com and dr.azizitariq@gmail.com. Sayed Hamid Mousavi, Medical Research Center, Kateb University, Kabul, Afghanistan, and Afghanistan National Charity Organization for Special Diseases (ANCSD), Kabul, Afghanistan, E-mail: dr.mousavi@kateb.edu.af. Don Eliseo Lucero-Prisno III, Department of Global Health and Development, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom, E-mail: don-eliseo.lucero-prisno@lshtm.ac.uk.

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