More than a quarter of the country’s 13 615 inmates across the country have received the Covid-19 AstraZeneca vaccine and the Malawi Prison Service (MPS) has said the development is imperative in reducing further spread of the virus and improving their protection.
Prison Service public relations officer, Chimwemwe Shaba, disclosed on Thursday, August 13, 2021 that over 3 000 inmates had been vaccinated.
According to Shaba, they were not forcing the inmates to take the jab but gave space to those who were willing to do so.
“It is not mandatory for prisoners to be vaccinated but those willing are getting the jab. As a service, we are optimistic that more would get the vaccine as the vaccination campaign continues,” Shaba said.
Shaba highlighted that prisons were amongst some of the high-risk places as far as Covid-19 was concerned, and described the vaccine as the best option in the fight against the pandemic.
Said Shaba: “Despite the vaccine, we have put in place several preventive measures to ensure cases do not rise again. Some of the interventions include reduction of interaction between inmates and visitors and we have established an isolation centre where those that show Covid-19 signs are managed. We will provide more information soon after the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine has been administered.”
Adrian Chikumbe, health ministry spokesman, said it was pleasing to see that prisoners were also willing to be vaccinated.
However, Chikumbe said the ministry has no specific targets for prisons as it is the duty of district health offices to decide which prison should benefit from the vaccination campaign.