Unvaccinated reversing progress, says Geingob

07 December 2021 | Health

HENRIETTE LAMPRECHT



WINDHOEK

A fuming president Hage Geingob yesterday said those who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 are undermining government's efforts to overcome the deadly virus.

He warned that in other parts of the world strict measures are being imposed on individuals who have not gotten the jab. These include mandatory restrictions on movement and socioeconomic activities.

"Those of you who have not been vaccinated are reversing the progress we have made in the fight against Covid-19. Those of you who do not respect the health protocols in place and refuse to wear masks and maintain social distance are reversing the progress we have made against Covid-19," he said.

He stressed that vaccines are safe and people have always been vaccinated against various diseases, including polio and measles.

"Unfortunately, we are not responsible and are putting more risk on others by refusing to be vaccinated based on arguments that have no basis in science," the head of state said.

Geingob made reference to essential workers like cross-border truck drivers who refuse to be vaccinated, thus placing a huge burden on the country's economy.

"People get angry because Botswana places vaccine mandates on those who enter their borders. Botswana does not stop individuals from travelling through the country, but merely asks for vaccination passports. The point is, go for the vaccination. The refusal to accept the vaccine mandate is an unacceptable state of affairs."

‘Highly regrettable’

Meanwhile, Geingob described it as "highly regrettable" that the country was forced to destroy more than 150 000 vaccines that had expired because those who were eligible refused to be vaccinated.

Should residents not change their habits, government will have no choice but to impose stricter measures before the festive season, he warned.

"If cases continue to rise and residents do not change their behaviour, that will be the only reasonable thing to do."

With a combined 154 595 doses of AstraZeneca and Sputnik 1 and 2 already expired and destroyed, fully vaccinated Namibians can get an additional vaccine jab to boost immunity.

According to the health minister, Dr Kalumbi Shangula, this is, strictly speaking, not a "booster", because immunity has not been proven to have decreased since the initial rounds of vaccinations.

"We offer an additional primary dose. If you received Sinopharm, you can also get Sinopharm (as a third dose),” he said.

Referring to vaccines that had to be destroyed, he said this was due to a short shelf life, or that they were exposed to a certain temperature during transportation.

Vaccines still effective

Shangula also yesterday confirmed that Namibia has identified 18 cases of the Omicron variant.

He said according to available information, current vaccines are still effective in reducing the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and death due to Covid-19 when infected with Omicron.

Out of 19 tissue samples tested between 11 and 26 November, one tested positive for Delta and 18 for Omicron. While some of the cases showed no symptoms, most included a cough, body aches and a sore throat.

Shangula said the new variant has predominantly been recorded in the Khomas Region to date, and may be responsible for the rise in new cases in the region.

From 1 to 5 December, 695 new cases were recorded in the country, of which 536 or 77% were in Khomas. He said hospitalisations have not increased to date.

He, however, warned that Namibia is still "very far away" from herd immunity, and said as many Namibians as possible must get vaccinated soonest.

"If we do not do this, we will continue to be vulnerable to wave upon wave," he said.

[email protected]

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