Thirteen-year-old Ashutosh Chhetry lined up to receive his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Patan Academy of Health Sciences in Lalitpur District, central Nepal on November 14, 2021.
That month, the Nepal Government opened eligibility for vaccination to all immunocompromised people age 12 and older. Ashutosh’s history of asthma made him part of this vulnerable priority group. People with asthma are more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19.
Ashutosh’s mother, Ruby Rajak Chhetry, and brother, Rohan Chhetry, breathed a sigh of relief knowing he was eligible to be vaccinated. The family is still mourning the loss of Ashutosh and Rohan’s father, who died of COVID-19 in June 2021.
“I’m happy my son is going to get protected. Now I can sleep in peace,” said his mother. “Protection is there now. I am confident that he will be okay. I don’t have to bear another tragedy in my life.”
“It hurt, but only a little bit,” said Ashutosh. “I was born confident.”
“Protection is there now … I don’t have to bear another tragedy in my life.” — Ashutosh’s mom
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses were donated to Nepal by the United States Government through COVAX. By late December, the U.S. had donated 765,180 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 1.5 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine to Nepal.
The COVAX Facility was created to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, with UNICEF leading on procurement and supply. To date, 144 primarily low- and middle-income countries have received COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX. On January 15, 2022, the billionth dose was delivered via COVAX in Rwanda. Despite setbacks in 2021, UNICEF and COVAX partners are pushing ahead to deliver 4 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of 2022.
UNICEF’s work to deliver COVID-19 vaccines equitably wouldn’t be possible without donor support. Join the global fight to end the pandemic.
Top photo: Thirteen-year-old Ashutosh celebrates after getting his first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Patan Academy of Health Sciences in Lalitpur District, central Nepal on November 14, 2021. Ashutosh, who suffers from asthma, was eligible under the Nepal Government’s policy of prioritizing the vaccination of immunocompromised people age 12 and over. © UNICEF/UN0570475/Dhakal