Namibians abroad share vaccine experiences

26 January 2021 | Health

TUYEIMO HAIDULA and OGONE TLHAGE



Now that the world has its first effective Covid-19 jabs, the next is for Namibia to get its first batch.

Namibian Sun spoke to Namibians living abroad who have been vaccinated.

Noa Shuuya (31), who has been living in the United Arab Emirates for four years, got her first jab of Sinopharm on 13 January 2021 and she did a vlog post about it.

Shuuya said she decided to take the vaccine after a conversation with a friend who is well acquainted with the topic and convinced her to do it. She was also hoping to give feedback on the dose and create awareness for her family back in Namibia. Shuuya encouraged those taking the vaccine to keep hydrated and eat before taking it. She had not been infected with the coronavirus before, nor has she ever been quarantined for it.

Questioned on myths surrounding the vaccine, Shuuya said: “Personally, I believe it's all in our minds, because at the end of the day it's all about our immune system and also what you feed your mind. If you believe in certain things, the brain as we all know is programmed to react to whatever it is that you feed it. So, I say stop overthinking and go out there and get yourself vaccinated.”

She will receive a second dose on 3 February. Shuuya said she has not experienced any side effects yet but she is still monitoring herself to see if any will develop.



United Kingdom

Lahja Paulus, a registered nurse in Manchester, said before her vaccination she had mixed feelings given that it is a new vaccine.

However, Paulus said being a health professional, she had to make the right decision and got the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. It has been just over a month since she got the first dose and about twp weeks since the second dose.

Shuuya said she has not experienced any side effects. She said one cannot get the vaccine if one is sick, has tested positive or has any Covid-19 symptoms. “It is very important that one receives two doses. It is crucial to understand that the vaccine does not make you immune to Covid-19 but it reduces the risk of infection or lessen the severity of symptoms in case of an infection.

“For this reason, we still need to follow guidelines and advice put in place to stop the pandemic. Continue to practise social distancing, wear a face mask (correctly) and maintain hand hygiene at all times,” Shuuya said.

She advised Namibians to stop listening to rumours around the vaccine.

“The vaccine is there to protect us and not to kill us. And just like any other vaccine, different people react differently. Get vaccinated and stop the spread of Covid-19,” she stressed.



Doctor's perspective

Sharing the same sentiments is Dr Ondavulitha Nuunyango, who said she initially had a lot of questions about the vaccine, how it works and whether this was the right time to have it administered.

Dr Nuunyango then read some study reports and consulted with senior colleagues in the field. She said prior to getting the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine, there are some warnings and precautions that one needs to take.

“We are advised to speak to our doctors if one had a serious allergic reaction to a previous vaccine, medicine or food, a severe illness with high fever, a weakened immune system, such as due to HIV infection, or are on a medicine that affects your immune system, a bleeding problem, bruise easily or use a medicine to inhibit blood clotting,” Dr Nuunyango advised.

She encourages people to continue wearing face masks, sanitising and social distancing, because like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective and it takes a few weeks for the body to build up protection from the vaccine.



Who should get the vaccine first?

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula told Namibian Sun on Sunday that the country expected the first doses of the novel coronavirus vaccine to arrive by the end of the month or the first few days of February. Shangula said they could still not give the exact date as that depended on the suppliers

Shangula said earlier this month that Namibia had made progress in acquiring vaccines by paying 15%, or N$29.3 million, of the N$169.5 million expected by the Covax facility. The first payment is for Namibia to get vaccine doses for 20% of the population, or 508 200 people. Between 60% and 80% of the population needs to be vaccinated to achieve a sufficient level of herd immunity. The vaccine will be prioritised for frontline healthcare workers and vulnerable groups.

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