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Relaxed measures not affecting vaccination rate

2022-05-17  Paheja Siririka

Relaxed measures not affecting vaccination rate

By 28 February 2022, a total of 433 398 people, aged 18 years and older, received one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, representing 29.4% of the target population.

Meanwhile, as of 13 May 2022, a total of 461 089 received one dose of the vaccine, representing 31.2% of the target population of 1 471 973.

In 74 days only, 27 691 people have received their first shot. 

This represents 374 doses per day, a far cry from the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) target of 10 000 per day to help Namibia reach herd immunity.

As the variants dominate the Covid-19 news cycle, research from the African Union’s Partnership for Evidence-based Response to Covid-19 (PERC) indicates a number of bottlenecks that have contributed to the failure to achieve higher vaccination coverage in the continent, including unpredictable supply – in terms of volume, timing and shelf life – continues to threaten countries’ ability to meet demand. 

As a result, many African countries, whose Covid-19 vaccine dose supply recently increased, are grappling with slow uptake of the jabs, threatening dose shelf life.

Meanwhile, health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula yesterday said although the country relaxed its health regulations recently, the established new measures do not affect the pace at which vaccination is going. 

The measures include gatherings of 1 000 persons allowed per event and it is no longer a requirement by law to wear a mask.

“The relaxation of public health measures against Covid-19 has no negative bearing on the vaccination uptake. The vaccine hesitancy is due to irrational fears driven and sustained by misinformation and disinformation. The government and stakeholders are employing various strategies to improve the vaccine uptake,” he told New Era in a telephonic interview.

A total of 141 455 have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, while 261 676 adults have received two doses of other vaccine types, adding that 403 131 adults have completed their vaccination, translating to 27.3 % of the target population.

“Up to 128 individuals have received component one of the Sputnik V vaccine and 76 have received component two of the same vaccine, translating to 204 doses of Sputnik V administered,” stated Shangula.

A total of 21 403 children, aged 12-17 years, have received one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, representing 7.0% of the target population of 307 298. 

Shangula said, of these, 9 360 are fully vaccinated.

“The cumulative number of people vaccinated with the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine for both adults and children is 482 492, of which 412 491 are fully vaccinated, translating to 23.0% of the total target population: 1 779 27. 10. Also, 59 665 people have received a Covid-19 vaccine booster dose,” shared Shangula.

He said: “The country remains in the campaign mode on vaccination, which is aimed at ensuring eligible children have access to Covid-19 vaccines. Namibia plans to integrate immunisation campaigns to ensure that routine immunisation continues to be conducted. This is critical to prevent a possible outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Shangula stated, as part of the quality control processes under the expanded programmes on vaccination, the Committee on Adverse Events Following Immunisations (AEFI) monitors, manages and reports all adverse events related to the administration of vaccines.

“Concerning Covid-19, the AEFI reporting and monitoring is ongoing. A total of 74 staff members across all 14 regions have been trained as master trainers to cascade training to the operational level. The AEFI guidelines are reviewed and updated regularly. Additionally, monthly assessment meetings are conducted,” informed Shangula.

He said scientific evidence points to the added benefit of boosters or additional doses, adding the ministry is urging eligible individuals to get their boosters.

Shangula called on the community at large to obtain and heed information from reputable sources to make informed decisions for their health and that of their families.

“Vaccines are effective, and they prevent serious illness, hospitalisations and death due to Covid-19 and other diseases. Unvaccinated individuals are more likely to meet these unfortunate fates. There is overwhelming data nationally and internationally to illustrate this fact,” said Shangula.

Furthermore, travellers are now able to receive their digital vaccination certificates online, and persons who need digital vaccination certificates for travelling purposes can now access this service via an internet link, provided on the ministry’s various media platforms.

At the recent Covid-19 briefing, President Hage Geingob reiterated the length and severe consequences at which the impact lockdowns could have if the virus is not contained.

“We have all seen and experienced the harrowing ordeal of restrictions, curfews and lockdowns – and I am sure there is no one eager to return to those days. Therefore, let us use forethought to spare afterthought. 

Remember, it is better to be safe than to be sorry,” said Geingob.


2022-05-17  Paheja Siririka

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