Andrew Kathindi

The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) has expressed concern at the low turnout of people being vaccinated for COVID-19.

Only 218 people have so far been vaccinated with the Sinopharm vaccine under the first phase of the of the ministry roll out plan which ends on the 16th of April. “There is still low uptake of the COVID-19 vaccines, we encourage the target population groups, especially health care workers to get vaccinated,” said Health minister, Kalumbi Shangula.

He argued, “Studies continue to show that COVID-19 vaccines work very well at keeping you from getting COVID-19 and help you from getting severe outcomes in the unlikely event that you get infected.”

In the last 24 hours, only 66 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered, of which 55 were in Khomas region and 11 in Erongo region. The Sinopharm vaccine, however, has age restrictions for people who are between 18 to 59 years.

The Ministry launched a rollout vaccination campaign after China donated 100 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, which began on Friday 19 March.

The Government received a further 30 000 doses of Covishield COVID-19 vaccines donated by India.

According to the ministry, people have an option to choose between either Sinopharm or the Covishield AstraZeneca vaccines, however it now appears the public’s faith in the vaccine has waned.

“Both the Sinopharm and Covishield vaccine have double dosages, thus the target is to inject 50 000 people with the Sinopharm vaccine and 15 000 people with the Covishield vaccine, “MoHSS Executive Director, Ben Nangombe, said.

The ministry is set to start the first rollout of the Covishield doses next week. However at the current pace, it is unlikely that Government will meet its target to vaccinate 65 000 Namibians with the vaccines.

People being targeted for vaccination are frontline health care workers and community health workers.

Those operating cross-border transportation (truck drivers, pilots, cross-border public transport bus drivers), employees at points of entry, police officers, journalists, members of the diplomatic corps, mining and fishery sector employees, religious and traditional leaders, people with disability, minorities and refugees, will also be prioritised in Phase I.

Namibia’s death toll continues to rise with 502 deaths having been recorded this far. Namibia has so far recorded 43 010 cases.