As Malawi is due to receive its first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine today, authorities are saying the country’s health system is ready to spring into action to administer the life-saving vaccine against the coronavirus which causes COVID-19.
The 320,000 doses of the vaccine were procured with support from COVAX and the World Health Organisation.
According to Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr Charles Mwansambo, the first batch of the vaccine is expected to jet into the country through Kamuzu International Airport later this afternoon.
In an interview with iHubOnline, Mwansambo said all the necessary measures have been put in place and all the ground work such as training of health workers, including ensuring that all the resources are in the right places, are being finalised.
Making announcement of the arrival of Vaccine earlier this week, Minister of Health Khumbize Chiponda, said that in the current arrangement which will be done in phases, 20 percent of the population has been targeted initially.
“The process will be gradual to ensure that the country’s larger population is reached with the vaccine,” she added.
“As you have already heard in our previous announcements, these vaccines that are coming with 360, 000 doses; the target likely is 360 000 people for the first dose, hoping the second dose will also come in time and then we’ll go back to the same people give them the second dose.
In this case we are targeting 20 percent of the population which are 3.8 million people, but this is going to happen in phases because you can agree with me that the demand for COVID-19 vaccine across the world is quite huge,” said Mwansambo.
Dr. Mwansambo has told us that the Ministry of Health with support from the Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity and the Ministry of Information, has engaged into advocacy, communication and social mobilisation activities to sensitise the masses on the need to vaccinate.
In a bid to dispute myths that most people are spreading about the vaccine, Dr. Mwansambo said they are also engaging with faith leaders to disseminate information for people to understand basics around the vaccines, for everyone to make voluntary decision before getting a jab.
“We understand that people have doubts in these processes but they need also to understand the importance of keeping their lives health, especially when information is provided. We truly believe that people will begin to understand this over time and believe us even when we start,” stressed Mwansambo.
He called on people to maintain the trust they have in the country’s health system.
“Vaccines are part of health seeking behaviour. We encourage where he underscored on the need for people to continue with health seeking behaviours,” he added.
Clergy Support for the Vaccine
So far, some leading members of the clergy under the quasi-religious body, Public Affairs Committee (PAC), has weighed in on calls for the masses to embrace the vaccine.
PAC spokesperson Bishop Gilford Matonga said through various engagement with health officials as religious leaders, they understand the importance of taking these vaccines.
“As religious leaders, we have been advising our followers and even church leaders, to avoid spreading fake information surrounding the vaccine as the has the ability to prevent other people to take part in this exercise,” he said.
Bishop Matonga added that COVID-19 remains a threat that requires people to continue observing preventive measures, even after getting vaccinated.