COVID-19 vaccinations plummet in Afghanistan following Taliban takeover: UNICEF

COVID-19 vaccinations plummet in Afghanistan following Taliban takeover: UNICEF
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COVID-19 vaccination rates have plummeted in Afghanistan after the Taliban took over, figures from UNICEF showed.

The lack of vaccinations has led to concerns that doses will expire before they can be used.

A UNICEF spokesperson told Reuters that vaccinations dropped 80 percent in the first week the Taliban took over the country.

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In the week starting Aug. 15, when the Taliban seized control of the capital city of Kabul, only 30,500 received a COVID-19 shot. 

In the previous week, there were 100,000 more vaccinations with 134,600 people getting vaccinated, the figures showed.

There have been almost two million Johnson & Johnson doses given to the country with 1.2 million administered by Aug. 20, according to date from the World Health Organization (WHO), Reuters noted. The rest of those doses would expire in November.

"The drop is understandable, as in situations of chaos, conflict and emergency, people will prioritize their safety and security first," the UNICEF spokesperson said.

The Taliban takeover has caused many Afghans to want to flee the country and has put fear in the those who have stayed, with women working in the health care industry afraid to go back to work. 

The WHO said on Tuesday that medical supplies in the country will only last a week as groups have had difficulty getting resources to the country as the airport is under tight restrictions due to evacuations. 

"We rapidly distributed lifesaving supplies to health facilities and partners in Kabul, Kandahar and Kunduz, but WHO now only has enough supplies in country to last for one week. Yesterday 70 percent of these supplies were released to health facilities," WHO regional director Ahmed Al-Mandhari said.

Despite the Taliban’s takeover and women’s fear to go back to work, 95 percent of the health facilities in Afghanistan are still open.