The Namibian government is securing Covid-19 vaccines as the country now aims to inoculate up to 80% of the population to reach coronavirus herd immunity, but conspiracy theories and misinformation about the vaccine continue to spread.
Social media has fuelled the spread of medical myths and misinformation.
However, the problem seems to have expanded faster and further than ever during the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.
In part, this has been due to the fact that the disease is relatively new, leaving many people to feed on conspiracy theories and false “facts” in their search for answers.
To combat the spread of misinformation, health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula has asked every Namibian to help debunk some of these conspiracy theories.
“It is disheartening, and the nation must be highly concerned about the ongoing propagation and distribution of fake news and conspiracy theories about the vaccination which are circulating on various platforms of mainstream as well as social media,” he stated.
Surprisingly, influential individuals are spreading some of this “fake news”.
He said this poses a huge risk to members of the public who fall prey, believing this to be correct information, and becoming hesitant to be vaccinated.
Shangula reiterated that the Public Health Covid-19 Regulations provided for relevant sanctions for individuals who spread false and misleading information,
or in any other way contravene the regulations on the Covid-19 response.
“For this reason, we must all do our part to protect ourselves and our families. The power to defeat this pandemic is in our own hands”, he added. Namibia thus far received two consignments totaling 67 200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX Facility. These consignments form part of the doses that the Namibian government procured from the Covax facility. Shangula, who on Tuesday gave an update in the National Assembly on the Covid-19 situation in Namibia, said more vaccine doses are expected from Covax, from Sinopharm, and through the African Medical Supply (AMS) platform.
By 8 June 2021, a total of 87 457 persons had received the first dose of Covid-19 vaccinations, while 11 608 were fully vaccinated.
On Tuesday, Namibia recorded 59 814 confirmed cases, with 52 646 people having recovered - leaving 6 232 active cases and 936 deaths reported.
Additional health workers are being recruited to increase the number of vaccinators both for fixed and mobile teams to increase vaccination coverage per day. “It is important that Namibia moves closer to our target of vaccinating at least 60% of the adult population”, Shangula noted.
He said governors, constituency councillors, traditional and religious as well as all leaders should become champions in their communities to save the nation.
The ministry will recruit additional health workers, expand infrastructure, improve and increase oxygen generation and supplies, procure more supplies and commodities, including PPEs, as well as essential medicines, vaccines and other items.
The minister thus called on all eligible people to get vaccinated and to encourage others to do so, and to adhere to Covid-19 regulations. People are urged to embrace the concept of self-policing, and practice it religiously; and to stay away from the public, workplaces and schools if not feeling well to protect others.