A vaccinated man displaying his certificate (source un.org)

The arrival of COVID 19 vaccines in South Sudan last year was described by some traders as a God sent manna to rescue their collapsing business.

Fast forward into the New Year, many South Sudanese are yet to get any of the COVID jabs for various reasons.

Last Friday, when the Eastern Equatoria State ministry of health in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF launched the Johnson & Johnson vaccination campaign in Torit and Magwi counties targeting nearly 100,000 people, most Nimule residents were very hesitant to take the jab.

Yangi Josephine, a 35 year old mother of four told Talk of Juba that she will have to first play a wait and see game.

“I will have to wait for at least five years to see the effect of this vaccine. My neighbor who works in the hospital says he is not taking the jab because he has already survived a COVID infection last year. So, who am I to rush for it?” Yangi said.

David Ijjo, a local forex dealer at Nimule’s border crossing point feels the vaccine is irrelevant for him.

“My sister suffered twice from breakthrough infection, a clear sign that the vaccine is a gamble and now they are telling her to get a booster. As for me, I cross this border for over five times every day without COVID testing,” he said.

However, for Joseph Fulli who has felt the wrath of the Ugandan authorities in an attempt to juggle his time between his first wife in Nimule and second wife in the camp in Uganda during the lockdown, vaccination is truly a manna if not a saving grace.

“I was among the first people to get vaccinated and I can assure those hesitant ones that they will live to regret it,” Fulli said in an assertive voice.

Fulli’s assertion echoes what the director-general in the state health ministry, Dr. Etin Concord Erib said during the launch that protection is better than cure.

“The only way for us to keep this pandemic at bay is through the vaccine and nothing else,” Dr Etin said.