A survey, released yesterday on perceptions of inoculation by Afrobarometer, found that close to two-thirds (63%) of Namibians believe prayer is more effective than a vaccine in preventing Covid -19 infection.
Despite having free access countrywide, Namibians have been reluctant to take up the vaccinations since the government’s programme started in mid-April.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and ministry of health on Monday pleaded with churches to adhere to Covid-19 measures in order to restrict the spread of the virus, as well as to encourage members to get vaccinated.
WHO representative in Namibia Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses said Covid-19
vaccines save millions of lives, adding that the religious community needs to partner with the government to help promote the uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine as a life-saving measure for oneself and loved ones.
The survey, conducted from December to February, is Afrobarometer’s first under its AB Calling telephone survey label.
With 55 812 Covid-19 cases and 854 deaths as of Tuesday, reported by the health
ministry, the country is facing its biggest health crisis since the start of the pandemic. On Tuesday alone, the ministry announced 263 new Covid-19 confirmed cases from
1 297 results in the last 24 hours, representing 20% positivity ratio.
The ministry also announced the highest number of 24 deaths, saying no vaccination status of all the victims could be confirmed.
By Tuesday, the total number of people vaccinated with the first dose of Sinopharm stood at 28 289, while those vaccinated with the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccines stood at 40 857, bringing the total number of people vaccinated with the first dose of both Sinopharm and AstraZeneca to 69 146.
The number of those vaccinated with the second dose of both Sinopharm and AstraZeneca stood at 9 574 by Tuesday.
“Vaccination protects against diseases, hospitalisation and death,” the health official reminded citizens.
Furthermore, the study found that two-thirds (65%) of citizens do not trust the government to ensure any Covid-19 vaccine that is developed or offered to Namibians is safe. Similarly, the study also found that about nine out of 10 adult Namibians say they are “somewhat” or “very” worried that a member of their household will become sick with Covid-19 (86%) and that the pandemic will negatively affect the country’s economy (94%), their household’s economic situation (92%), and the future well-being of
Namibia’s children (94%).
Furthermore, half (50%) of the Namibians say they are unlikely to get vaccinated – even if the government says the vaccine is safe, while more than three out of four citizens (77%) report they are worried that companies that make Covid-19 vaccines will try to test them on ordinary Namibians – even if they have not been proven to be safe.
According to the report, about 76 500 vaccine doses have been administered, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Slow vaccine uptake is of great concern, with a third wave of infections looming large during this winter period.
Despite government’s warnings, Namibians continue to flock to church services and funerals, which have been flagged as
spreaders of the virus.
Government last week limited the number of people at public gatherings to 50 to help curb the spread.
At the engagement with churches, health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula urged all community leaders, spiritual leaders as well as elected and traditional leaders to spread the correct messages about the vaccination campaigns as having been established through proper medical and scientific procedures the ministry of health strictly follows. “As we continue to state, our national Covid-19 preparedness and response is informed by science and we will never do anything to cause harm to the Namibian people,” said Shangula.