Photo: Daro Sulakauri/UNDP

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) — in partnership with Denmark, the European Union (EU), Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United Nation’s Joint Sustainable Development Goals Fund — is accelerating efforts to help Georgia’s government speed up COVID-19 vaccination rates.   

Despite the consolidated efforts of Georgia’s health authorities and international partners, transmission and mortality rates remain high — particularly because only 32 percent of the country’s adult population are fully vaccinated. To increase vaccination levels, UNDP and partners rolled out the Vaccines4Life campaign.

Launched in September, this awareness-raising and educational initiative has reached a wide range of audiences across the country, including rural residents, youth, businesses, civil servants and marginalized social groups.

On 22 and 23 October, representatives from UNDP; the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia; the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC); and the Swedish Embassy visited a crisis centre for survivors of gender-based violence and the Union of Deaf of Georgia. They answered questions about vaccines and vaccination, and a mobile medical squad registered and vaccinated attendees; over 50 people were vaccinated at the meetings.

“We are in a life-and-death battle with an invisible enemy; vaccination is the only way to win. Almost 99 percent of those who died of COVID-19 were unvaccinated. To increase access, we have kicked off a vaccination marathon across Georgia to reach out to socially vulnerable groups,” said NCDC Head Amiran Gamkrelidze.

“Georgia has already lost over 9,500 lives to COVID-19. Countless people are suffering from the pandemic’s consequences on their health, well-being and incomes. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to do all we can to increase vaccination levels, starting with ourselves, to save lives and livelihoods,’’ Ambassador of Sweden Ulrik Tideström noted.

“UNDP is committed to assisting the government to counter misinformation and provide people with immediate opportunities to vaccinate. Vaccination is the only way to get our lives back and move from emergency response to economic and social recovery,” UNDP Deputy Head Anna Chernyshova said.

“People who have experienced violence and feel vulnerable and insecure need reliable information and encouragement to make decisions about getting vaccinated. It is crucial to let them know how to protect themselves from the virus and to provide easy access to vaccination services,” said the crisis centre Head Indira Robakidze.

“People with disabilities are among the most vulnerable during the pandemic. They have less access to coronavirus information and a harder time registering for vaccination. Special arrangements are needed to remove these barriers and to ensure equitable access to vaccines,” said President of Union of Deaf of Georgia Amiran Batatunashvili.

Ahead of UN Day on 24 October, the Vaccines4Life campaign echoes the United Nations’ global call to secure life-saving vaccines for all, end the spread of the virus and ensure that all countries recover from the pandemic’s devastation brought and build back better.

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