About 75 000 AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses, donated by the Netherlands authorities, will arrive in the country this Sunday, health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe confirmed yesterday.
The doses are expected to land at the Hosea Kutako International Airport at 20h00. As of 4 August 2021, a total of 169 790 people had received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, while 51 138 had received two doses and were regarded as fully vaccinated.
The public has been having numerous concerns about the implications of missing a deadline of getting the second dose. Acting country director for the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Namibia, Dr Steven Hong, said for the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, in particular, data has shown that a longer interval between the first and second shots led to higher vaccine efficacy.
“People should get their second shot as close to the recommended time as possible. Even if you are delayed in getting your second shot of Covid-19 vaccine later than recommended, you do not have to restart the vaccine series,” he said. “Even though people may be delayed in getting their second shot, they must still get their second jab as you are not considered fully protected until two weeks after the second dose. Therefore, all people must continue to practice the prevention layers that we know to be effective.”
He cautioned Namibians to continue wearing well-fitting masks, maintaining social distancing, ensuring adequate ventilation, avoidance of crowded indoor spaces and regular handwashing. “When these measures are applied together with vaccination, we can stop the spread of infection,” added Hong. Namibia is targeting to vaccinate at least 1.5 million eligible Namibians or 60% of the population by 31 March 2022 to attain herd immunity.
However, the growing problem of vaccine hesitancy may affect the uptake of Covid-19 vaccines. Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula last week announced the country will soon receive additional vaccines, including 302 000 Johnson & Johnson doses donated by the US government through the Covax scheme.
He also added the consignment of the donated AstraZeneca vaccines will greatly help the country vaccinate a huge number of citizens awaiting their outstanding second doses. “We are working day and night to ensure that all individuals whose second dose of vaccination is outstanding will be vaccinated as soon as the doses become available. We received communication that 9 714 of the 333 333 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine procured through the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) will be delivered during the week of 23 August 2021,” the minister said last week. The Covid-19 pandemic has claimed over 3 000 lives since the outbreak in March last year.