FROM flinching to tense arms and smiles, the Covid-19 vaccination can be described as easy for some while for others it felt like a bus had hit them.
As the world, and Africa, celebrates immunisation week, Namibia’s health minister Kalumbi Shangula and executive director Ben Nangombe chose yesterday to lead from the front.
Shangula and Nangombe got their first AstraZeneca Covid-19 jabs yesterday morning.
The minister flinched as the nurse vaccinated him while Nangombe calmly smiled.
Shangula chose the day to get vaccinated because it is the commemoration of World Immunisation Week.
« I want to send a clear message on this global occasion to the Namibians in the hope that this will convince those who are doubtful and sceptical that Covid-19 vaccines are safe and will protect them and save lives, » he said.
About 800 million people worldwide have been vaccinated.
« Let no Namibian be left behind, » he stressed.
During observation after the jab, Shangula was in high spirits answering questions from journalists and showing visible side effects to the vaccine. Nangombe also showed no side effects.
The Lancet medical journal says the side-effects are less intense in adults with lower doses, and after the second dose.
« Although there were many serious adverse reactions reported in the study in view of the size and health status of the population included, there was no pattern of these events that provided a safety signal in the study, » it reads.
Dr Ishmael Katjitae who was one of the first to get vaccinated described the process as glorifying because for him the advantages of getting the vaccine far outweighs the risks some countries are experiencing.
« I am aware that there is a real benefit. It is the difference between ending up in the hospital on oxygen or a ventilator, » he explained.
Namibia currently has more than 40 patients under intensive care while 155 are in hospital.
Namibia may face another delay in the delivery of vaccines from the Covax facility, which could affect the country’s roll-out prpgramme.
Namibia recently received only 24 000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses, and is expecting another 40 200 doses by next month.
The country was initially set to receive between 127 200 and 213 600 AstraZeneca doses through the Covax facility by mid or late February 2021 but only received its first doses in the mid April.
John Nkengasong, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters last week they cannot predict when the second doses would arrive.
The Covax facility was to deliver 600 million doses to Africa this year.
The majority of these doses are produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Last month India, however, suspended exports to meet rising domestic demand amid a surge in Covid-19 cases.
CDC country director for Namibia Eric Dzuiban said it was not clear when Namibia would receive a second batch of vaccines from the Covax facility.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) Namibia communication specialist, Judy Matjila, said over the next few days, updates on the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccines would be shared with the 82 participants that were allocated this vaccine.
Matjila, however, confirmed that the Covax vaccine deliveries from India or the SII/Covishield vaccine will be delayed because India has expanded its own immunisation programme.
« Deliveries of the SII/Covishield vaccine are expected to resume by May, with catch-up deliveries to reach every participant’s full allocation up to May, accelerating thereafter, » Matjila added.