Dr Chanda urges breastfeeding mothers to take COVID vaccine


Zambia’s COVID 19 vaccination campaign has topped over 64, 000 vaccinations but faces a surge in the number of COVID 19 infections being recorded countrywide.

Minister of Health, Jonas Chanda, said 5,029 were vaccinated across the country bringing the cumulative number of people vaccinated against the COVID 19 pandemic to 64, 011.

ZANIS reports that Dr Chanda said the majority of people who have been vaccinated are men at 64%, while women account for 36% of those vaccinated.

The minister explained that women are hesitant to receive the AstraZeneca jab because of safety concerns of the vaccine.

“Community engagement has indicated that the women are hesitant to be vaccinated because of some concerns they may have over the safety of the vaccine towards current and planned pregnancies, and their breastfeeding babies”, said Dr Chanda.

The minister said scientific studies done in a number of countries on effects of the vaccines in pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers indicates that all is safe for both the mothers and babies.

He advised breastfeeding mothers in Zambia to go ahead and get the vaccine as it will also provide immunity to their babies. 

Dr Chanda said further assessment and recommendations will be made on guidelines for the vaccination of pregnant women.

The minister disclosed that Zambia recorded 97 new cases of COVID 19 out of 4,765 tests conducted in the last 24 hours bringing the cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded in the country to date at 91,946.

The Minister said eight out of ten provinces reported cases of new COVID 19 infections with Northern leading with 18 cases, followed by Luapula and Lusaka with 12 cases each, North-Western 11, Copperbelt 6, Lusaka 5, Central 3 , Southern 2, while Western and Muchinga provinces reported zero cases.

Dr Chanda said 7 districts reported significant cases of new Covid 19 infections namely Lusaka with 29, Chipata and Senga Hill 9 each, Lupososhi 6, Milenge 5, Kitwe 4 and Chienge 3.

The minister of health said following 7 new admissions, the country currently has 37 patients admitted to Covid 19 isolation facilities across the country with 31 on Oxygen therapy and the remainder in critical condition.

Dr Chanda said 66 Covid 19 patients were discharged from both the Covid-19 isolation facilities and home management, taking the cumulative number of recoveries to 90,232.

He said those discharged are 25 from Lusaka Province, Eastern 13, Luapula 9, Western 6, Northern 5, Copperbelt 3, North-western 2, Muchinga 2, and Southern 1.

Dr Chanda disclosed that one patient in western province died of complications  bringing the cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded to-date at 1,256, classified as 705 COVID deaths and 551 COVID-19 associated deaths.

The minister urged the general public to continue adhering to Covid 19 public health guidelines and measures of masking up, washing hands, maintaining physical distance, avoiding crowding and staying home and seeking medical attention early.

Dr Chanda said the government will remain on high alert as the country heads into the cold months of June/July in light of a number of countries experiencing the “second”, “third” and “fourth” waves of the pandemic.

He warned that Zambia remains at high risk of the third wave and new variants of the Corona virus especially that neighbouring countries like South Africa have reported about 2,000 cases of new infections in the last 24 hours.

Dr Chanda said the government will escalate the country’s surveillance and laboratory testing to enhance the detection and management of any new Covid-19 cases. 

He encouraged all eligible Zambians to access the vaccine voluntarily and timely, noting that all countries and communities are at risk of Covid 19 transmission due to increased interactions between people following the lifting of sanctions on travel. Dr Chanda said the government will continue to consolidate its Covid 19 response strategy through the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) in order to safeguard public health security in the country