Kunene embarks on vaccination roadshow
OKANGUATI – Staff of the Opuwo District Hospital recently undertook an educative Covid-19 vaccination roadshow to Okanguati and nearby localities in the Epupa Constituency to sensitise and promote vaccinations through education.
According to the officials, this was necessitated by the low number of people who turned up at vaccination centres.
The senior health program officer in the Kunene region, Jason Ndahepele, said the region targeted to vaccinate about 64 499 people between March 2021 to March 2022. Currently, 26% of the population has received their first dose and 16% their second dose.
He noted their aim is not to force anyone to take the vaccines but to provide them with crucial information on the vaccines, and the final decisions shall still be up to them.
In addition, Ndahepele stated that their final decision should be made on a basis that they just do not want any vaccination and not that they have not taken the vaccines because they have not received any education on the types of available vaccination.
They stressed the vaccines do not prevent one from contraction of the virus; however, it gives one the strength to fight the virus and prevent them from falling severely ill, especially going into ICU should they contract the virus.
The team also pointed out that before any vaccination is done, consultations and checkups are done to ensure the person is healthy enough – and should one have a history of any medical conditions, their doctors are consulted to give a green light for the vaccination.
Kunene has adopted weekly meetings with stakeholders to provide feedback on the programme implementation and discuss the way forward.
Ndahepele applauded the response from the education sector, saying, so far, 105 people from the education sector, including eligible learners, have received their vaccine.
Chief Tjimbuare Thom of the Vita Royal House said he and his household will get vaccinated.
He declared there is no objection, and that all that stood in their way is cleared because his son’s first dose was a success.
Residents of the Otjiyandjasemo village said social media has contributed to the spread of fear towards vaccination.
Maria Thomas, a pre-primary school teacher, said there is a lot they see on social media platforms that seemed true and automatically instill fear in them.
“These people making videos have actually been vaccinated because they have their cards with them and then we see their vaccinated areas turn on bulbs. It is easy to believe – and it is scary. I would not want such things in my body when I can choose to be unvaccinated and stay normal,” she said.
A fully vaccinated Antonio Pendulamo, a resident of the Otjiyandjasemo village, said: “So many stories came at me about the vaccines; I was even told that getting vaccinated meant joining Illuminati. However, I ignored all and went forward with it – and I stand before you today all healthy without any hiccups”.
Another vaccinated resident Hangula Ephraim stated that he decided to get vaccinated when he got knowledge that the vaccines provide one with the strength to fight should they contract the virus.
He claimed that he was pleased to hear the government was providing the nation with hope through the vaccines, stating that they would be able to fight and beat Corona – and not fall severely ill at its feet.
Additionally, Epupa councillor Tjimutambo Kuoko shared his experience with the virus and told the community that myths will always be there – and that everyone chooses to believe what they feel is right but, in the end, heed must be paid to the government and nurses who have been fighting for us and with us to keep us healthy and alive.
“TB came. HIV came. Cholera came. And now it is Corona. And many more will keep coming. Let us unite to fight whatever comes to attack us,” said headman of Otjiyandjasemo village Suse Thom.
Ndahepele said, apart from the roadshow, underway are programmes such as conducting radio talks in the vernaculars of the residents and information-sharing via churches.
*Suama Shingenge works for the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology in Opuwo as an intern.