By: Envaalde T. Matheus
The health minister Kalumbi Shangula says that the management at the ministry is responsible for the Covid-19 vaccines that were destroyed late last year because they expired.
Shangula said this in an interview with Eagle FM’s Home Run programme.
In November 2021, the health ministry announced that more than 268,000 doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines had to be destroyed due to slow uptake among citizens.
The destroyed vaccines include; 52,261 AstraZeneca vaccines and 215,996 Pfizer shots that would expire in January and February, respectively, if they found no takers as vaccine hesitancy has been on the rise.
Namibia kicked off with its vaccination campaign last, but the turn up has been disappointing due to the hesitancy to get vaccinated, which is still complex to date. Shangula said that the hesitancy could merely be reduced through effective communication campaigns, collectively by government entities and the media.
The health minister emphasised that the vaccines are effective and are available countrywide, and there is a need to build confidence and trust amongst the public in the vaccines.
“We have never run out of vaccines. We regret to announce that we were forced to destroy some expired vaccines before they could be used. But I can assure you that we have learnt and improved on that. We will never purchase nor accept donations that surpass what we can use in the time frame, we calculate the trend and the uptake to ensure that nothing expires on our shelves, but we make sure we have enough all the time,” Shangula assured.
He said the country could only vaccinate the targeted population by strengthening and fully implementing the communication strategy for public education, awareness creation and management of misinformation on the Covid-19 pandemic, which he said is part of the mass media campaign aimed at reducing that.
There are currently four types of vaccines in Namibia: AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer, which are readily available at countrywide health facilities.
In May, the minister announced that Namibia was engulfed in the Fifth wave, with more and more patients being admitted to the hospitals. He also said that the ministry took note with concern that patients who are admitted to ICU are those who are not vaccinated.
According to the ministry, Namibia recorded 164, 708 coronavirus cases since the epidemic began. In addition, Namibia reported 4,040 Covid-19 deaths.
The number of Covid-19 vaccination doses administered per 100 people in Namibia rose to 32 in May 2022.
The minister has urged Namibians to distance themselves significantly from rumours, unfounded conspiracy theories, misinformation and disinformation surrounding the Covax, which has increased and made several people averse to vaccination.