A cloud of hesitancy continues to hover over thousands of Malawians on whether or not to go for Covid-19 vaccination as revelations indicate that at the close of business on Monday, only 19 people had received the second jab of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Since, according to the government of Malawi public working policy, Saturdays and Sundays are “off-days” it means the 19 were vaccinated on Friday, when the second phase of vaccination was launched and yesterday [Monday, June 7).
Nyasa Times investigations show that of the 19 vaccinated, two are President Lazarus Chakwera and his deputy Saulos Chilima who received their second jab at the Mtunthama State Residence in the capital Lilongwe in a televised event—to prove its importance and safety.
Adamson Muula, a public health expert and professor at College of Medicine, has expressed worry over the low number of people who are receiving the second jab of AstraZeneca vaccine.
According to him, it was expected that a good number of people would have already turned up on the first day of the second phase of the vaccination exercise last Friday—June 3—as over 300 000 Malawians are recorded to have received the first jab.
“There is need to sensitize people on the importance of receiving the second dose of the vaccine,” said Professor Muula.
Health rights campaigner, George Jobe, had advised prior to the launch of the second phase of the vaccination exercise that government and stakeholders needed to up their game on sensitization campaigns so that Malawians can willingly get vaccinated.
Last month, Malawi had incinerated 19 160 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that had expired, a development that might have been perpetrated by people’s reluctance to get vaccinated.
In spite of health authorities announcing a presence of a more contagious Indian variant in the country that infected 14 people, the administration of the second jab started on a low note.
On Friday, Nyasa Times reported that some vaccination centres were vaccinating not more than three people and in more rural settings no one came up for the second jab.
“Our recommendation is that we need to package special jingles and messages tailored toward the second dosage,” Jobe told VOA. “Those [messages] should fly in our media, encouraging those who got their first jab to get their second jab to complete. And we should also show the benefits of completing the dosage.”
He also said there is a need to use community structures, like religious leaders and village chiefs, to encourage their subjects to get the second jab.
President Chakwera and his deputy Chilima, said after getting vaccinated last Friday that Malawians should go for vaccination to prevent a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Chakwera, the going first to receive the second jab was to dispel misconceptions and fears some Malawians have about the COVID-19 vaccination.
He said: “The AstraZeneca vaccine we are using is a good vaccine whose aim is to protect us from COVID-19. That’s why my vice president and I were the first to have vaccinated in March, and now we want to become the first to have the second jab in public. Our aim is that you should be protected, there is no need to fear.”
Malawi got a total 512,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines in March. The COVAX facility gave Malawi 360,000 doses, the African Union donated 102,000 doses and about 20,000 of those were destroyed last month after they expired. The Indian government donated 50,000 doses.
As of Thursday, VOA reports, only 355,000 doses had been used.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :