Mitthi Jirel (left), staff at the district hospital in Jiri in Dolakha District in northeastern Nepal, with UNICEF staff Preena Shrestha (right) in the hospital's vaccine storage room on February 26, 2021.

Ask the Expert: How to Keep Vaccines Safe in Nepal

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As the world's largest single vaccine buyer, UNICEF procures more than 2 billion vaccine doses for routine immunizations and outbreak response every year — enough to vaccinate almost half of the world's children under the age of 5. 


Getting those vaccines to some of the hardest-to-reach places on earth requires dedicated, experienced professionals like Mitthi Bahadur Jirel, above left, who has been a staff member at Jiri district hospital in northeastern Nepal's Dolakha district for 29 years. In the video below, Jirel explains the meticulous storage and monitoring protocol he follows day in and day out to maintain the cold chain system that keeps lifesaving vaccines safe every step of the way.


Delivering vaccines safely in the mountains of Nepal: a delicate science


In addition to providing vaccines for routine childhood vaccinations, UNICEF is also putting its decades of expertise to good use in the campaign to end the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the COVAX Facility, UNICEF is leading on the procurement and supply of 2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 180 countries in 2021, including 1.2 billion doses to low- and middle-income countries.


On March 7, 2021, Nepal became one of the first countries in Asia to receive a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX. Initial doses were targeted toward essential health workers like Jirel. "When I got vaccinated, people were warning me that I might get headaches, have a fever, feel lethargic," says Jirel. "But I didn't have any of those issues. I felt completely normal, just as I had before."


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Top photo: Mitthi Bahadur Jirel (left), a 29-year staff veteran at Jiri district hospital in northeastern Nepal's Dolakha district, shows UNICEF Nepal Communication Officer Preena Shrestha an insulated vaccine carrier in the hospital's vaccine storage room on February 26, 2021. © UNICEF/UN0422892/Prasad Ngakhusi; video: Tong Su