BLANTAIRE, Malawi – Malawis again line up to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Malawi ran out of doses in June amid a surge in COVID-19 infections and just weeks after the government burned 20,000 unused doses that had been exhausted due to vaccine hesitation.
Malawi’s government resumed its immunization program on Monday after receiving 192,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Since then, immunization centers have seen long queues of people, unlike earlier, when some centers used to vaccinate only two people per day.
Liznette Chilungo was among thousands of people who lined up at the youth center in Blantyre on Tuesday for vaccinations.
She said she “decided to get vaccinated this time because the COVID-19 infection is becoming more scary now and many more”. [more] People are dying more than ever.”
She said she was originally hesitant because she doubted the efficacy and safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine because of myths and misinformation.
George Jobe, executive director of Malawi Healthy Equity Network, said the overwhelming turnout confirms that there is fear and panic among people about rising COVID-19 cases and other factors.
“The first thing that may happen is that those who received the first and second jabs are still in good health, including the state president and vice president, contrary to myths and misinformation. This should have affected the mindset of the people regarding the COVID-19 vaccine,” Jobe said.
Also, preliminary results of a survey by the Ministry of Health show that more than 80% of the COVID-19 patients admitted to public hospitals were not vaccinated.
However, Malawi is far from vaccinating the 11 million people needed to reach herd immunity.
Records from Malawi’s Institute of Public Health show that only 43,165 people have received two doses of one vaccine. Another 385,000 have just got the first shot.
Health ministry secretary Charles Mwansambo said people most vulnerable to the coronavirus should get vaccinated first.
“Since we’ll get enough vaccines for everyone, I recommend that let’s give healthcare workers a chance, let’s give people over 60 a chance. Let’s also give people with conditions like high blood pressure, sugar . (diabetes). And the rest of us can wait,” Mwansambo said.
The health ministry announced last week that in addition to the 192,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which arrived on Saturday, Malawi expects to receive 119,000 more doses of the same vaccine before the end of the month.
The country is also expected to receive a donation of 300,000 Pfizer vaccine doses and 300,000 Johnson & Johnson doses in early August.