Windhoek – Namibia this week took delivery if its first batch of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by its ally, China.
The 100,000 doses of the vaccine were delivered at Hosea Kutako International Airport by Air Zimbabwe, courtesy of the Zimbabwe government which dispatched its national carrier to China earlier in the week to collect COVID-19 drugs for the two SADC partners.
After receiving the batch, Namibia’s Health and Social Services Minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula said, “Like other countries, Namibia views the COVID-19 vaccine as a critical tool in returning our country to normalcy. We believe a safe, effective and we’ll planned Covid-19 pandemic vaccination programme will put our country on a trajectory towards reaching the required levels of herd immunity and eventually overcoming the pandemic.
“Now that the COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Namibia, we will hit the ground running. We will not waste any second. Our work will start immediately, guided by a well-articulated plan of action.”
The minister said vaccinations would be conducted in phases under the existing Expanded Programme on Immunisation, and will start in the Khomas and Erongo regions which have been identified as national epicentres of the pandemic.
Targeted populations to be prioritised for vaccination include frontline health workers, community health workers, persons aged between 18 and 59 years, people with disabilities, minors and refugees. The programme will be broadened to the diplomatic corps, police officers, media personnel, religious and traditional leaders, people working at the country’s border, cross border transporters, miners and fishing sector employees.
However, people with comorbidities, those older than 60 years of age, as well as pregnant and lactating women will be excluded as the country first establishes more data on how the vaccines respond to people in these demographic groups.
Phase 1 of vaccinations runs from March 19 to April 16. People are encouraged to report any negative side effects to the vaccine to health authorities.
Dr Shangula thanked China and Zimbabwe for their support in getting vaccines to Namibia, and he urged citizens to get immunised.
“I implore you dear compatriots to welcome and embrace this positive development and avail yourselves to be vaccinated. Namibia is a living example of a successful vaccination campaign.
“When we had a nationwide polio outbreak in 2005, we mounted a polio nationwide vaccination campaign. Today we are certified by WHO as a polio free country. We aim to do the same with COVID-19 so that we return to normalcy. Let us work together in the interest of all Namibians,” he said.