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Northern school vaccination drive kicks off

2022-04-20  Festus Hamalwa

Northern school vaccination drive kicks off

Festus Hamalwa

John Muyamba


Government attempts to increase the number of Namibians vaccinated against Covid-19 by targeting children under 18. 

The campaign was launched in various northern and northeastern regions last week.

Ohangwena governor Walde Ndevashiya launched the schools’ campaign at Oshela Senior Secondary School on Wednesday for awareness creation in the region. 

The national campaign was officially launched by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture in Windhoek on 25 March 2022. 

The campaign mobilises the school community, including learners, principals, teachers, boards, parents and the communities around the schools to accept and allow the vaccination of eligible children, aged 12-17 years. 

This initiative came about following the approval granted by the World Health Organisation for children, aged 12 to 17, to get vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Namibia’s vaccination campaign has missed all deadlines to reach herd immunity as vaccine resistance, fuelled by misinformation and a recent drop in positive cases, hospitalisations and deaths.  

So far, only 401 226 people have been vaccinated since the campaign started in March 2021. 

Of those, 18 970 children, aged 12 to 17 years, have received one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, representing 6.2% of the target population (307 298) and 6 600 are fully vaccinated.

The six-month advocacy and public education campaign that commenced on 4 April to 4 September 2022 targets all learners in that age group.

Ndevashiya said the campaign aims to remind schools and surrounding communities that Covid-19 is real, as well as to increase the level of awareness and knowledge on the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, including the availability of vaccines for adolescents.

“As per the policy directive, learners aged 12-13 will require parental consent to be vaccinated. However, learners aged 14 to 17 years will give consent for themselves. The goal of the Namibian government is to ensure the success of the vaccination rollout programme, which relies on individuals’ acceptance of the vaccines.

Ndevashiya further explained the Ohangwena health directorate already conducted a Covid-19 vaccination campaign, targeting learners, teachers and staff as well as community members around schools between 28 March and 12 April 2022. 

“Of the 213/224 schools visited, which represent 95%, children aged 12 to 13 reached were 703. Children aged 14 to 17 reached were 2 024; therefore, the total children vaccinated were 2 727.

Ohangwena region has provided the first dose to 30 4013 (17.42%), the second dose 17 711 (10.15%) and the third dose 632 (0.36%).  

“I appeal to our communities to cooperate with our campaign teams and understand the importance of getting eligible children vaccinated. Similarly, we urge parents, teachers, children and the public at large to be aware of misinformation and familiarise themselves with credible and verifiable sources of information regarding vaccination against this deadly pandemic,” he urged.

In the same vein, Oshikoto governor Penda Ya Ndakolo also launched the vaccine campaign at Ekulo Secondary school to build public trust in government’s Covid-19 response efforts and change individuals’ behaviour and attitudes towards Covid-19 vaccines. 

“Learners getting vaccinated, you are breaking the chain of the spread; you reduce the mutation; you protect others – and even if you get sick, the severity of the disease is minimal, not requiring hospital admission,” he said. 

Ya Ndakolo added vaccination is voluntary but it is highly recommended so that everybody can be protected.

Kavango East governor Bonifatius Wakudumo said it is important that children are vaccinated to ensure uninterrupted teaching and learning.

“It will reduce disruptions to school attendance and other extra-curricular activities. Our region has recorded progress in vaccination – and by 12 April 2022, 35 849 people received their first jab and 13 344 have received their second jabs. 

So far, 4 962 children aged 12 to 17 have received their first doses and 2 319 are fully vaccinated. However, more still needs to be done to preserve lives,’’ he said. 

Wakudumo noted the campaign comes when winter is approaching. 

He said the winter season has previously led to a high number of cases in various communities and schools. 

“It is, therefore, important that we all get vaccinated before entering the full winter season to ensure we protect ourselves, our friends and loved ones against Covid-19. We need to guard against the repetition of last year when we lost many lives and closed schools during winter,’’ he said. 

“I call on our learners, teachers and parents to do their part and get vaccinated. The campaign brings services closer to us in our schools and communities – and we should all take advantage of the opportunity to get vaccinated,’’ he noted.

“The Kavango east health directorate has all four vaccines available in the country at all our health facilities; namely, Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Janssen (J&J). All these vaccines are safe and effective; the choice thereof lies with the individual,’’ said the Kavango East acting health director, John Kapumburu.

2022-04-20  Festus Hamalwa

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