THE vaccination campaign against Covid-19 continued to make gains, but still at a slower pace than expected, Isles Health Ministry says.
The ministry has urged more people to get vaccinated amid increasing number of patients downed by the virus.
"With only 85,000 doses received in June/July this year, only 10,866 have so far been vaccinated by last Wednesday.
Previously, the doses were intended for elders, health workers, and employees in tourism sector, but we have decided to allow other members of the general public to have the jab before it expires," said Dr Abdalla Suleiman Ali, Director General, Ministry of Health, Social Welfare, Elders, Gender and Children.
He told the 'Daily News' here yesterday that most of the intended people including the health workers and elderly persons haa not been vaccinated, despite repeated calls to do so, since the vaccines were received. Zanzibar with a population estimated at 1.5 million aims to vaccinate at least a quarter of the population by the end of this year.
Zanzibar is currently injecting its people with SINOVAC (55,000 doses) from China and SPUTNIK Light-5 (30,000) from Russia, donated to Zanzibar.
"We expect to receive a consignment of 'Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine' within the next two week. Only a few doses were brought from Tanzania mainland and used for two days during the Kizimkazi Festival in respect of President Samia Suluhu Hassan," he said.
Minister for Health, Social Welfare, Elders, Gender, and Children Mr Nassor Ahmed Mazrui also joined Dr Ali to ask the media to help encourage Zanzibaris to go for the jab. He allayed fears, saying the vaccine is safe and helps to minimize risks of serious Covid-19 infections.
He also called on development partners to help Zanzibar produce sufficient oxygen for use in hospitals particularly during emergencies like this week where the demand is high due to the increasing number of people with breathing difficulties linked to the pandemic.
"We only have one oxygen producing machine capable of producing 30 filled cylinders for use in 'labour ward for expectant women' at Mnazi Mmoja Hospital.
Normal daily demand for oxygen is between 30 to 50 cylinders, but from last week, the demand grew between fifty and one-hundred per day. We urgently need help because hospitals in Zanzibar (Unguja and Pemba) rely on oxygen produced at Mnazi Mmoja," Dr Ali said.
According to the ministry's data, Covid-19 cases increased this week with 876 positive cases (last Friday) up from 390 on August 10, this year and the number of deaths jumped to 40 from 15 deaths recorded eighteen days ago.