TOLLAND, Connecticut — Seychelles is an ocean archipelago of 115 islands located off the east coast of Africa. The small country of 97,625 also has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the world. Experts predict it will be one of the first to successfully emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. A common tourist destination, the country’s strong vaccination campaign is crucial to reviving its struggling economy. The success of the vaccine rollout in Seychelles can provide a blueprint for other small countries to open their borders and restart their economies as the world slowly begins to emerge from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
5 Facts About the Vaccine Rollout in Seychelles
- Seychelles is the first African country to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Although vaccination campaigns in Africa have struggled with a slow start, Seychelles jumped ahead of most other nations, beginning its rollout on January 10, 2021. President Wavel Ramkalawan was the first African head of state to receive the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine. Donations from India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), combined with a small population, enabled the success of the vaccine rollout in Seychelles.
- Seychelles has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the world. The country ranks third in the world for the percentage of the population vaccinated against COVID-19. President Ramkalawan thanked the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the UAE Armed Forces, who donated 50,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to Seychelles. Ramkalawan says that the UAE plans to donate another batch of vaccines soon. This is in addition to the 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the government of India.
- Seychelles is prioritizing healthcare workers. Like many other countries, Seychelles began the vaccine rollout with the country’s healthcare workers with an initial goal of reaching 25,000 people. Additionally, Ramkalawan, former president, Danny Faure, and other senior government officials were vaccinated to boost public confidence in the vaccine. In addition to the country’s robust vaccine rollout, Seychelles has largely escaped high infection rates. Seychelles had an average of zero cases per day for parts of February and March 2020, with a total of just 583 COVID-19 cases and one death by January 11, 2021.
- Seychelles will vaccinate a majority of its population by March 2021. Seychelles plans to vaccinate most of its adult population by mid-March 2021, including 70% of those under 18. The robust Seychelles vaccine rollout is part of the country’s plan to be the first in the world to vaccinate at least 70% of its population. “From there we will be able to declare Seychelles as being Covid safe,” declared President Ramkalawan. Once the vaccine campaign is complete, Seychelles hopes to relax restrictions and welcome more tourists.
- Seychelles is the first country to welcome vaccinated tourists. The Seychelles Tourism Board announced in February 2021 that it will open its borders to vaccinated tourists. This trend is expected to continue worldwide in the following months. Visitors must provide proof of two approved vaccinations and submit an authentic certificate of the immunization. They will also need to provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken less than 72 prior to arrival and abide by all existing health mandates. Because of these protocols, visitors will not have to quarantine for two weeks. Travel and tourism provide about 40% of the nation’s GDP. The country hopes that relaxed restrictions will thus restore the once-thriving tourism sector.
Vaccine Rollout Success
Like many small countries heavily reliant on tourism, Seychelles has suffered from the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the strong success of the vaccine rollout in Seychelles has provided hope to curb the pandemic and reopen the country’s economy. The inexpensive and more readily available Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines, which can be more easily shipped and stored, are the cornerstone of the island country’s strong vaccine campaign, a strategy that can be replicated in other African countries. By vaccinating a majority of its population, Seychelles is well on its way to achieving herd immunity.
– Eliza Browning