Following the arrival of the initial doses of the Covid-19 vaccines in the country yesterday, Health Minister Dr. Jonas Chanda has announced that the vaccination program will be launched today at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) where vaccination will be started.
Speaking during the routine Covid-19 update today, the Health Minister said the health workers who are in the frontline in the fight against Covid-19 will be the first to receive the vaccine as guided by Cabinet in the approved vaccine program for Zambia.
He said other groups that are at high risk will then follow, reiterating that the vaccination will be voluntary and not mandatory.
“We endeavour to ensure, those on the frontlines are safe to strengthen the country’s preparedness for any possible third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the cold season, we will also vaccinate those who are volunteering who are in charge of core societal functions.” Dr. Chanda said.
And Permanent Secretary Technical services Dr. Kennedy Malama said the vaccines are being stored in a special storage facility where vaccines are stored at national level at the National Program on Immunisation.
“We have made allocation to all the 10 Provinces of our country, in line with the prioritised categories.”
“Tomorrow is the National launch and strategically we are going to do this launch at the University Teaching hospital, and start vaccinating, tier one (1) the health workers. And from there we will ensure that all the provinces do their provincial launched and also District launches…. where the focus is actual administration of the vaccine.” Dr. Malama said.
And responding to a question during the update, University Teaching Hospital Director of Infectious Diseases Professor. Lloyd Mulenga said pregnant and breastfeeding women would not be eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine as clinical trials that evaluated the safety and efficacy of the vaccines did not include pregnant and breastfeeding women adding that this particular population would not be routinely included for vaccination.
He however said that as the vaccination program was voluntary, those that felt that the benefit of taking the vaccine was bigger than the risk were at liberty to be vaccinated.
“So far the data that has come out for some of them under the trials (pregnant and breastfeeding women) who were vaccinated is that they gave normal live births, no major events have been recorded, however those trials were not designed to answer the question if these vaccines were safe in the pregnant population.” Professor Mulenga said.
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