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More than 254 thousand doses of omicron-specific vaccine against COVID-19 delivered to Ukraine for free vaccinations

28 March 2024

This is an updated version of the Comirnaty vaccine from the American company Pfizer, adapted specifically to protect against the Omicron strain of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has delivered 254,000 doses of the vaccine for children over five and adults to Ukraine, which will be distributed to all oblasts. The delivery was supported by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi).

“The global trend in COVID-19 shows that the virus is moving into the category of seasonal diseases, like the flu. Every year, people will face the coronavirus, which will continue to mutate. The omicron-specific vaccine delivered by UNICEF is adapted specifically to protect against the Omicron strain of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that is circulating in the country. Previously, this vaccine was used for booster vaccinations, but after the recommendations were changed (Order of the Ministry of Health of 29 February 2024, No. 346), it is now allowed for the primary course. This means that Ukrainians who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, have not completed the primary vaccination, or patients who are recommended by their doctor to receive an additional booster vaccination will be able to receive it with the omicron-specific vaccine. It will be available in all oblasts,” said Deputy Minister, Chief State Sanitary Doctor of Ukraine Ihor Kuzin.

Since the beginning of the epidemic season in October 2023, more than 3.7 million Ukrainians have contracted SARS, influenza and COVID-19. During this period, 839 deaths were registered as a result of COVID-19 complications. In terms of the course of the disease, the Omicron strain mostly manifests itself as a common respiratory illness and does not cause severe oxygen dependence. However, it remains dangerous for risk groups: people with pathologies, chronic diseases and weakened immune systems, and people over 60 years of age. Therefore, vaccination is recommended for people at risk. It is free of charge, and you can get vaccinated at your family doctor or at a hospital-based vaccination center.

“Vaccination can protect against severe COVID-19 and complications. This batch contains vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 years and for adults and adolescents aged 12 years and older. The vaccines are already in Ukraine. Therefore, please check whether you, your children and older relatives have received the necessary doses and take the opportunity to protect your health,” said Vera Mendonsa, Deputy Representative of UNICEF Ukraine.

Between 11 and 17 March, 150,422 people fell ill with SARS, flu, and COVID-19, including 88,829 children. The country’s hospitals hospitalized 597 people, including 94 children, due to COVID-19 complications. There were 24 deaths among patients who tested positive for COVID-19. All of those who died had not been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the last 12 months.

Vaccinations against COVID-19 in 2024 remain free of charge for all Ukrainians. You can get vaccinated by making an appointment with your family doctor or at a vaccination center in a healthcare facility. After the outbreak of full-scale war, the work of mass vaccination centers operating in shopping malls and other premises adapted for mass vaccinations was stopped for security reasons. The network of vaccination points operating in outpatient clinics, hospitals, and primary healthcare centers is in place. Information about the nearest vaccination points, their addresses, and working hours can be found by calling the Ministry of Health’s contact center at 0 800 60 20 19.

An omicron-specific vaccine against COVID-19 is available in all oblasts. Previously, this vaccine was approved only for booster vaccinations. Now, Ukrainians who are not vaccinated against COVID-19, have not completed their primary vaccination, or patients who are recommended by their doctor for an additional booster vaccination will be able to get vaccinated with the omicron-specific vaccine.