1m Covid vaccine doses coming soon

17 December 2020 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES



WINDHOEK

Namibia is likely to be one of the first recipients of the Covid-19 vaccine, which is expected to reach our shores early next year, health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula said yesterday.

The country recently joined the Covax Facility to procure the vaccine and has since signed a committed purchase agreement with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation.

According to Shangula, Cabinet has already approved the ministry’s costed vaccine introduction plan and community engagement and communication strategy, aimed at 20% of the population - roughly 508 200 people.

He added that Namibia has made an upfront payment of N$28.9 million, which is 15% of the N$193 million total cost to Covax, for over one million doses of vaccine.

“We are open to enter into bilateral arrangements with countries and companies for access to Covid-19 vaccines. The health ministry is running a programme called Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI). When the Covid-19 vaccine becomes available in Namibia, it will be run as part of the EPI,” he said.

Target population

Meanwhile, health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe said the vaccine will be prioritised for healthcare and frontline workers, the elderly and those with underlying health issues.

According to him, research indicates that this will bring about some sort of herd immunity.

Nangombe also pointed out that the vaccine will be administered on a voluntary basis, and added it will not be dished out to just anyone.

“Government will not coerce people if they do not want the vaccine. But we are saying we want to protect our healthcare workers on the frontline. But if a special healthcare worker refuses, we will not compel them to take the vaccine. Also, we have to manage the vaccine in an economical way, so we would like to target those who are part of vulnerable groups,” he said.

Nangombe added that the vaccine has been authorised for emergencies in the United States, and medical trials found that it was more than 90% effective.

“We in Namibia rely on international organisations with respect to approvals, whether it is the Food and Drug Administration in the USA and the CDC or the World Health Organisation. If medicines are found to be safe by these organisations who have stringent requirements of approval, we also approve these standards,” he said.

[email protected]

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