Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary for Technical Services Kennedy Malama says government will only cover 20 percent of the 8.4 million citizens who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
Dr Malama notes that among the 8.4 million Zambians to be vaccinated against the viral infection include the elderly, people with underlying health complications and those that work in high-risk areas.
He told ZANIS in Lusaka that 13 vaccines that have been proven to be effective will be available, noting that only COVAX and astrazeneca will be administered to citizens by government.
The Permanent Secretary stated that other approved vaccines out of the 13 will be administered to citizens through private partners that have shown interest.
“The country will remain open to other stakeholders that can help eligible citizens who may not be covered by the 20 percent,” he stated.
Dr Malama stressed that only vaccines whose efficacy and safety have been proven will be allowed adding that it can only be done through assessment by the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) and other regulatory bodies.
“The vaccines have been proven to prevent illness by 80 percent and severe illness by 100 percent,” he said.
Dr Malama noted that COVID-19 has been strenuous on government especially during the second wave between December last year and February this year.
And Dr Malama further noted that people are usually reluctant to accept new developments.
“They criticized the government when the Antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccines were introduced, but as scientists we will prove the efficacy of the vaccines using scientific evidence,” he said.
He stated that the Ministry of Health will continue to monitor happenings in other countries.
“It is likely that we will be hit by the third wave which will be more ferocious and we are taking these steps to prevent the deadly variance,” he said.
He stated that government will continue to strengthen efforts in the fight against coronavirus pandemic and that 200 health workers will be employed at the COVID-19 health centres in the country.
“This is out of a total of 395 that are set to be employed by the Ministry of Health this year,” he said.
He also noted that the Ministry will not neglect other diseases that affect citizens.
Meanwhile, a cross section of citizens in Lusaka have mixed feeling over the COVID-19 vaccines.
Veronica Bwalya, a vendor in the Central Business District, who bases her opinion from social media assertions, says that she will not accept or allow any member of her family to take the vaccine.
““We have been told that the vaccine is intended to wipe out the black people. I will not allow anyone in my family to be vaccinated,” Said Bwalya.
And Blessings Zulu says the vaccine will be good for the prevention of the disease saying more people may die if such an intervention is not taken.
Close to 88,000 people have been infected with COVID-19 and 1,200 have died from the viral disease since last year when it was first reported in the country.