Maputo — The Mozambican Minister of Health, Armindo Tiago, has become the first health professional to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 respiratory pandemic, marking the start of a nationwide roll-out, under which the country's 65,000 health professionals will receive two doses of the vaccine, donated by the Chinese government and produced by the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm.
The central ceremony was held on Monday at Maputo Central Hospital (HCM), the country's largest health unit. At the start of the roll-out, other citizens such as the director general of the hospital, Mouzinho Saide, a nurse, two elderly people and two grave-diggers were also vaccinated.
Addressing the ceremony, Armindo Tiago said the roll out will move on in full compliance with the safety and efficacy patterns internationally recommended.
"This gesture may seem symbolic but it is of great importance for us, because through it we want to show the reliability of the vaccination drive, headed by the government, so that everyone, health workers and civil society at large, can trust the process," Tiago said.
The vaccine, he said, will be administered through an intramuscular injection on the upper arm in two doses, with an interval of 21 days. The efficacy level is estimated to be 79.3 per cent against Covid-19, but 100 per cent against the most serious forms of the disease, which require hospitalisation.
For the success of the programme, Tiago said several preparatory measures have taken place among them the passing of regulatory instruments; the provision of logistical conditions for keeping the vaccines in compliance with the recommendations of the manufacturer; the training of health staff; and Friday's launch of the National Vaccination Plan which includes communication and social mobilization components.
"We would like to entreat the Mozambican people, the organisations of health professionals, and other political and civil society organisations to join efforts for the success of the campaign," Tiago urged.
However, the minister pointed out that the vaccination of the health workers should not be allowed to interfere with normal service at the health units.
The director general of the HCM, Mouzinho Saide, encouraged all other health workers to take the vaccine free from any form of hesitation, because it is safe and protects against the serious forms of the respiratory disease.
"We are the first health workers to be vaccinated and in this ceremony the Minister of Health has also been vaccinated to serve as an example," he said, adding that after taking the vaccine he did not feel any adverse reaction.
On Monday, Mozambique received a further 485,000 doses of vaccine. 385,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been provided under the Covax initiative, sponsored by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure that all low and middle income countries receive the vaccines they need.
The Indian government donated 100,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine, produced by the Serum Institute of India.
Eventually, the Covax initiative is expected to provide Mozambique with over 12.3 million doses of vaccine, enough to vaccine ate over six million people.