AS Tanzania launches voluntary Covid-19 vac- cination today, President Samia Suluhu Has- san has assured the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a continued cooperation in containing the spread of the pan- demic across the continent.
President Samia made the statement yesterday when she met with the Director General of Africa CDC Dr John Nkengason at the State House in Dar es Salaam.
Ms Samia will today launch the national Covid-19 vaccination campaign at the State House, where she is expected to take the first jab of the vaccine at the State House. The voluntary inoculation gets underway five days after the East African nation received the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines, delivered through COVAX arrangement.
The 1,058,400 doses of the vaccines donated by the United States of America arrived on Saturday at the Julius Nyerere International Airport.
President Samia told Dr Nkengason that Tanzania has been taking a number of measures to fight the pandemic, including formation of a special team of experts that examined the coronavirus situation locally and globally and proposed remedies.
"Tanzania has also joined the Covax facility for the sake of benefiting from the available opportunities that include accessibility of the vaccines," she said.
The president also assured the Africa CDC boss that Tanzania was ready to keep working closer with experts from the center in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. Going forward, she said the government would construct factories to manufacture vaccines for communicable diseases.
President Samia informed the CDC director that the government has significantly improved health services by increasing the number of health centers as well as provision of public education on Coronavirus preventive measures.
The Tanzanian leader, on the other hand, suggested that the Africa CDC has a crucial role to play in educating members of the diplomatic corps on different health issues for them to effectively participate in health forums at their work stations.
For his part, Dr Nkengasong commended President Samia for the various efforts she is taking in fighting Covid-19, pledging a full support to Tanzania in combating the disease, which has killed millions around the world. He reaffirmed the Africa CDC's commitment to work closely with AU member states, including Tanzania to ensure effective utilization of opportunities available from the centre.
"Some of the opportunities include the availability and accessibility of the vaccine to among the member states," he said, noting the center has embarked on a trusted travel strategy to enable all AU member states to travel within and outside the continent without facing any Covid-19 restrictions.
Expounding further, he said Africa CDC is looking forward to supporting Tanzania on building capacity for the country's laboratories and health experts on identifying Covid-19 variants.
"The center would also provide support on research as well as preventive measures against Covid-19 and the vaccines," he said, adding that the Africa CDC would support African countries to procure preventive equipment for coronavirus in bulk. According to the Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr.
Dorothy Gwajima the first phase of the roll out will prioritize frontline health workers, the elderly (50years and above) and those with chronic illnesses. Ahead of the vaccine rollout, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has maintained the government's position that no Tanzanian will be forced to be inoculated, insisting that the vaccination will be voluntary.
The Premier issued the clarification following widespread misinformation on social media with regards to the Covid-19 vaccine. He urged the public to refrain from misleading information and myths.
"There hasn't been any individual who has been forced to take the vaccine nor has it been written anywhere that the vaccination exercise is compulsory," said Mr Majaliwa while speaking to the residents of Nandagala Village in Ruangwa District, yesterday. The Prime Minister cautioned people against spreading lies, pointing out that no government will come up with a malicious plan to harm its people.
He maintained that the decision by the government to bring the Covid-19 vaccines into the country is to ensure the vaccines are available and accessed by Tanzanians who want to be vaccinated for their own protection against the deadly disease.