Tanzania Out to Clarify More On Covid-19 Vaccination

Dar es Salaam — The government will issue clarification and awareness on Covid-19 vaccinations soon, a senior official said yesterday.

The Permanent Secretary (PS) in the ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Abel Makubi said the clarification will come along with an official guidebook on the matter.

Prof Makubi told The Citizen that, so far, the government has implemented a number of proposals that were highlighted by a team of experts that was set by President Samia Suluhu Hassan to advise her administration on the best approach of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among other things, the team, chaired by Prof Said Aboud, recommended for the government to allow voluntary vaccination and resume issuing of statistics related to the pandemic.

And, Prof Makubi said yesterday that in implementing the committee's findings, the government was fostering its public awareness programmes regarding the presence of the pandemic in Tanzania.

It was also providing information on the presence of the disease as well as taking steps to strengthen all preventive measures to curb the threat of the third wave of the virus.

"Other matters such as vaccinations await an official guidance and once it is completed a statement will be issued, and this is coming soon," Professor Makubi said.

Analysts say the government will have to embark on public awareness campaigns if the Covid-19 vaccinations were to be taken seriously, considering the fact that the country has come from a long period of misinformation surrounding the disease.

"The existence of different myth regarding Covid-19 increases fear about the disease. As such, we are ready to join hands with the government in utilising lessons learnt and develop vaccine related interventions such as awareness and demand creation," said a source from one of the major health-based organisations on condition of anonymity.

With misinformation, a number of African countries have not been able to utilise the Covid-19 vaccinations during the past two months.

Last month, Malawi incinerated 19,610 expired doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, saying it will reassure the public that any vaccines they do get are safe. It is the first African country to publicly do this.

The Democratic Republic of Congo said recently that it could not use most of the 1.7 million AstraZeneca doses it received under the global Covax scheme for poorer countries.

The doses had an expiry date of 24 June and had thus been sent to other countries including Ghana and Madagascar.

South Sudan is also handing back 72,000 doses it got through the Covax scheme.

It had received 132,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in March, with an expiry date of the end of June.

Of these, South Sudan has been able to administer just 10,000, but has kept a further 50,000 to distribute before they expire.

Analysts say without a well orchestrated public awareness campaign, considering the misinformation during the past two years, Tanzania's Covid-19 vaccines could see people not willing to be administered.

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