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Ambassador Leonard’s Remarks during the launch of the Imo State COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Campaign
February 17, 2022

I am pleased to be part of this important event to launch the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaigns in Imo State.  First, I want to thank Governor Hope Uzodinma for inviting us to be part of this program and commend him for the proactive steps to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake in Imo.  Vaccination is the most effective way to protect ourselves and our communities from this deadly disease.  Thanks to the ingenuity of scientists and medical experts, we can protect ourselves from COVID-19 with safe and effective vaccines.

The U.S. government considers increasing access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide a top priority.  However, we know that until we vaccinate more people around the world we are all at the mercy of future COVID-19 variants.  No one is safe from the pandemic until everyone is safe, and the only way to do that is through vaccines.

Just two days ago, Secretary Blinken launched the Global Action plan.  He laid out the U.S. government’s commitment to helping coordinate areas that the world has identified as the most significant barriers to ending the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Secretary recommitted to increasing access to vaccines, efforts to boost vaccine confidence by tackling misinformation, last-mile vaccine delivery, and supporting health workers to vaccinate people.  Part of this commitment is reflected in the U.S. donation of over 21.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, accounting for over 35 percent of the total donations to Nigeria.  It is reflected in our logistics support that ensures the vaccines get to the last mile and are available to those who need them the most.  Also, it is reflected in our technical and financial assistance to ensure these vaccines get into arms and that no vaccines expire unnecessarily when millions of people need them.

I want to use this opportunity to recognize the efforts of the U.S.-CDC, USAID, and the U.S. Department of Defense Walter Reed Army Program to support Nigeria’s vaccine rollout.  Specifically, I want to thank U.S.-CDC’s implementing partner, the Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria, for their pivotal role in ramping up vaccine access and uptake in Imo State and other states.

Lastly, I want to thank Governor Uzodinma, his team, and community leaders in Imo.  Community leaders are the gatekeepers and are instrumental to securing the health and wellbeing of the Imo people.  We need your support to champion the vaccination of the people of Imo and protect them from COVID-19.  The U.S. Mission in Nigeria stands with you.  The more people are protected through vaccination, the better for our communities, Nigeria, and the world.  I applaud your commitment and look forward to celebrating your success.