Swaziland: Chaos As Swaziland Halts Coronavirus Vaccination of Elderly

The vaccination of elderly people against coronavirus in Swaziland (eSwatini) has been thrown into chaos and temporarily halted.

A timetable for jabs was issued by the Ministry of Health but was largely ignored. An announcement was made that only health motivators should attend vaccination centres on Tuesday (6 April 2021) but many elderly people turned up.

The Times of eSwatini quoted Lucky Matsebula, an organiser at Pigg's Peak, saying, 'We had a tough time turning them back.' He added many people were eager to be vaccinated and were not willing to turn back without being treated. Many said they could not afford to make another trip from their homes to the centres.

In a statement on Tuesday the Ministry of Health said the inoculation of the elderly was 'currently in abeyance' as inoculation of health workers continued. No date for resumption was given.

Meanwhile, Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi said they could not guarantee that vaccines would be available in Swaziland in time for people who needed their second jabs of AstraZeneca in late May.

Swaziland had only received 32,000 doses and each person needs two doses for the vaccine for them to be successfully protected against coronavirus (COVID-19). Nkosi said there were only about 12,000 doses remaining in the kingdom. The population of Swaziland is about 1.1 million people.

Swaziland is expecting delivery of 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine but no date has been set for their arrival.

A row has broken out over a partnership between the Ministry of Health and the Luke Commission, a health institution linked to Swazi royalty, to accelerate vaccination.

The Swaziland News, an online publication, reported and the Luke Commission had 'deployed unprofessional health workers' who did not wear uniforms and there were doubts that they were nurses, doctors or health workers.

Nkosi said the Luke Commission had experience working in communities providing essential care to the elderly through mobile outreach services.

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