March 15, 2022 — Leaders in Togo knew that securing COVID-19 vaccine doses was only the first of many challenges standing between turning vaccines into vaccinations. But they also knew that acting quickly was essential. Two of the most pressing needs were creating the necessary cold chain infrastructure and conducting an accelerated vaccination campaign that affectively communicated key information and addressed people’s concerns – in a country where a September 2021 survey found that 72 percent of respondents lacked confidence in the locally available vaccines.
The team used a $4.5 million HEPR Program grant that became effective on June 30, 2021, to tackle both challenges. Between July and December 2021, 27 percent of the planned activities were fully implemented. Progress included:
- Cold chain procurement started: 303 refrigerators (including 78 solar-powered units), 30 m3 cold rooms, a positive cold room, temperature monitoring equipment, and a refrigerated truck to be delivered by the end of June 2022
- Support for COVID-19 vaccine monitoring and evaluation realized, including nationwide supervision of digitalized data management
HEPR Program support also funded a demand generation and risk communication campaign that supported an accelerated vaccination campaign held from November 22 to December 1, 2021 to boost stagnating vaccination coverage; 836,526 doses were administered throughout the country, or an average of 88,427 people vaccinated per day (compared to 5,346 people vaccinated daily before this campaign). As of December 31, vaccine coverage was 25 percent (1,020,272 people fully vaccinated/4,026,742 targeted people). Thanks to the HEPR Program contribution, 24 percent of vaccine recipients were vaccinated for the first time in areas of COVID-19 vaccine resistance (exceeding the target of 22 percent), through support to the communication strategy and community awareness, as well as to quality management of adverse events following immunization (AEFI) aimed at strengthening confidence and managing false beliefs. This has resulted in improved acceptance and demand for COVID-19 vaccines by the targeted populations.