Kandjemuni Kamuiiri and Rose-Mary Haufiku

DEPUTY minister of health, Ester Utjiua Muinjangue, became the first Namibian to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Chinese drug Sinopharm on Friday.

Muinjangue said she took the vaccine to dispel fears about the safety of the drug which arrived in the country on Wednesday.

“I did it to set an example and to encourage others to do so. We are leaders and we are requesting the community to get vaccinated.

‘’I am not worried because I know there are people in other countries who took it before us and are doing fine. Therefore, I am not worried at all,” she said.

Muinjangue, who is also the leader of the National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO) received the vaccine during the official launch of the first phase of the vaccination roll-out plan, which began at the at Windhoek Central Hospital on Friday and will last until 16 April.

Asked whether her children, who are eligible to receive the Sinopharm vaccine would do so, Muinjangue said: “Yes, because all my children are above 18, I would encourage them to get it. We have spoken about it already at home. Two said they will first wait and see what happens but the third said he was ready. They are waiting and the moment I say there is a chance for them, they will go.”

“I urge all eligible Namibians to go and get the vaccine because that is the only way we can control the pandemic.”

According to Windhoek Central Hospital Chief Nurse Primus Shilunga, patients are required to go through a scan to determine their blood pressure, allergies and eligibility to take the vaccine.

Head of Case Management of National COVID-19 Task Force in the Health Ministry, Dr Theo-Ben Kandetu, who was the second Namibian to get the vaccine said he needs the protection as he is a frontline worker.

“This is not just to protect myself, but also to protect those around me; my core workers, my family and my loved ones,” said Kandetu.

He said he does not feel at the risk of getting COVID-19, because the vaccine is safe and effective, thus able to protect one from contracting the virus.

“I am not concerned about the side effects because although there are side effects associated with the vaccine, in clinical trials these side effects were for the most part mild,” Kandetu added.

The first phase of the vaccination will be in Khomas and Erongo regions, as they were the hardest hit.

According to the government, the targeted recipients of the vaccine include frontline health care workers, community health workers and persons between 18 and 59 years.

“Persons in close settings and those operating cross-border transportation (truck drivers, pilots, cross-border bus drivers), employees at points of entry, police officers, journalists, members of the diplomatic corps, mining and fisheries sector employees, religious and traditional leaders, people with disability, minorities and refugees will be prioritized,” said health minister Kalumbi Shangula.