Priority age targets for COVID-19 vaccination in Ethiopia under limited vaccine supply

Sci Rep. 2023 Apr 5;13(1):5586. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-32501-y.


The worldwide inequitable access to vaccination claims for a re-assessment of policies that could minimize the COVID-19 burden in low-income countries. Nine months after the launch of the national vaccination program in March 2021, only 3.4% of the Ethiopian population received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine. We used a SARS-CoV-2 transmission model to estimate the level of immunity accrued before the launch of vaccination in the Southwest Shewa Zone (SWSZ) and to evaluate the impact of alternative age priority vaccination targets in a context of limited vaccine supply. The model was informed with available epidemiological evidence and detailed contact data collected across different geographical settings (urban, rural, or remote). We found that, during the first year of the pandemic, the mean proportion of critical cases occurred in SWSZ attributable to infectors under 30 years of age would range between 24.9 and 48.0%, depending on the geographical setting. During the Delta wave, the contribution of this age group in causing critical cases was estimated to increase on average to 66.7-70.6%. Our findings suggest that, when considering the vaccine product available at the time (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19; 65% efficacy against infection after 2 doses), prioritizing the elderly for vaccination remained the best strategy to minimize the disease burden caused by Delta, irrespectively of the number of available doses. Vaccination of all individuals aged ≥ 50 years would have averted 40 (95%PI: 18-60), 90 (95%PI: 61-111), and 62 (95%PI: 21-108) critical cases per 100,000 residents in urban, rural, and remote areas, respectively. Vaccination of all individuals aged ≥ 30 years would have averted an average of 86-152 critical cases per 100,000 individuals, depending on the setting considered. Despite infections among children and young adults likely caused 70% of critical cases during the Delta wave in SWSZ, most vulnerable ages should remain a key priority target for vaccination against COVID-19.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • COVID-19*
  • ChAdOx1 nCoV-19
  • Child
  • Ethiopia
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines*
  • Young Adult


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • ChAdOx1 nCoV-19
  • Vaccines