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The battle to get Namibia vaccinated

2021-08-11  Paheja Siririka

The battle to get Namibia vaccinated
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Whatever conspiracy theorists say, you can not ignore the fact that vaccination remains one of the most reliable methods of containing viruses and ultimately preventing infectious diseases.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have recommended the following vaccinations for Namibia: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, yellow fever, rabiesmeningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia, influenza and TDAP (Tetatus, Diphtheria and Pertussis).

Namibians have been getting vaccinated for these over the years without any issues but times have changed and now, vaccine hesitancy has taken precedence during Covid-19 times, which has caused a slight setback in the containment of the novel coronavirus.

Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, at the launch of a vaccination media campaign, said it is only through joint efforts that vaccine acceptance will be ensured to bring positive behavioural change among the citizens.

“Vaccines help our body to learn to fight the virus well before the infection. Vaccination also helps prevent severe illness or hospitalisation in an event of exposure to Covid-19,” she informed.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila added: “With the availability of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines, multiple efforts have been made to strengthen and equip our health delivery mechanisms for the expeditious roll-out of the vaccine.”

For the country to reach herd immunity, 60% of the population need to be vaccinated. Namibians are slowly taking up this project.

“We are pleased to note the increase in the uptake of Covid-19 vaccination by the people. The government will continue to pursue efforts to secure more doses for the country. We are expecting to receive more consignments of vaccines in the next few weeks and months to ensure enough stock for all eligible people,” stated Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.

Conspiracy theories about Covid-19, and now the vaccines, have fuelled hesitancy among Namibians.

She added that vaccination is the right thing to do to protect and shield ourselves and our loved ones from irreparable harm and risks posed by the pandemic. 

On 19 March 2021, the vaccination campaign got underway and saw deputy health minister Utjiua Muinjangue as the first citizen to get the jab against Covid-19.

This was after Namibia received the first batch of 100 000 Covid-19 vaccines donated by China on 16 March 2021.

The WHO said 76% of the deaths in the African region were from five countries, including Namibia, and this meant positivity and case, fatality remain high, calling for more pandemic control and in this case a more robust push to have citizens vaccinated.

Sagoe-Moses said: “Vaccination is the best weapon against Covid-19. We can do this as we have done with other vaccine-preventable diseases in the past. Let us show love to each other, our families and loved ones by supporting the government to get all eligible Namibians vaccinated.”

As of 3 June 2021, WHO has evaluated that the following vaccines against Covid-19 have met the necessary criteria for safety and efficacy and that includes AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer/BionTech, Sinopharm and Sinovac.

Namibia has Sinopharm and AstraZeneca, with Johnson & Johnson expected to arrive soon.

Sagoe-Moses said the pandemic is worsening with approximately four million deaths and 200 million cases worldwide, according to reported figures as of 10 August 2021.  He added: “Over 132 countries have detected the highly transmissible Delta variant, which is responsible for this increase.”

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula said since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in Namibia on the 13 March 2020, the country has gone through three distinct waves, adding that coupled with the high transmissibility of the virus and high virulence, the virus was able to spread fast and cause many deaths.

“Misinformation and disinformation that was perpetuated via social media and other platforms also played a role that resulted in vaccine hesitancy and also in the fact that some infected person resorted to home remedies and only sought medical service when it was already late,” he stated.

Shangula said: “We have learnt from our data that the only way to protect Namibians is through vaccination. The Government of Namibia with its partners is making great progress in procuring vaccines through the COVAX facility and bilateral arrangements. Our target is to vaccinate over 600 000 of our population by the end of September 2021.”

He stated that the government has strengthened the vaccination campaign through radio and TV interviews, increased the number of vaccination sites and are working around the clock to monitor and evaluate the National Vaccination Deployment Plan.

- psiririka@nepc.com.na


2021-08-11  Paheja Siririka

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