Saturday, September 25, 2021

Batswana seek cross-border vaccinations on the back of slow roll out

As more vaccines arrive in the country, some Batswana have lost faith in the country’s vaccine rollout plans resorting to get their jabs in neighbouring South Africa. 

All this is done behind the Ministry of Health and Wellness’s back (MOHW) as they are not aware of these extremes Batswana are going to get vaccinated. 

In his last address on Botswana’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said one of the objectives of the restrictions, was to accelerate the vaccination campaign in line with priority number one of the administration’s Reset Agenda.

As of September 3rd, the country has managed to fully vaccinate 21.6% of the currently eligible population of about 1 531 000 people. Vaccination in the country began on the 28th of March, and Masisi has informed the nation that by the end of October 2021, 975 782 Batswana will be fully vaccinated translating into 64% of the target population being fully vaccinated.

These numbers may however be inaccurate, given the undocumented number of Batswana who have already received their jabs outside of the country’s vaccination plans.

Quizzed on the dangers of such a development, chief public relations officer Christopher Nyanga said, the ministry has in the past assisted some Batswana and residents who had received their first dose in other countries with second doses in the country. “The reasons for them having taken their first dose in other countries were different, some were on study while others worked or had business in those countries, and had to now come home,” Nyanga said. He added that what happens, in this case, is that the ministry would give a dose similar to the one that the client would have received as a first dose in the country in which they would have been vaccinated. Therefore, there would be no danger in that situation.

The ministry has not received any report regarding Batswana crossing borders to solely getting vaccinated. Asked what is being done to ensure that citizens do not cross into neighbouring countries to get vaccinated, Nyanga said “the ministry assures Batswana that enough Covid-19 vaccines have been secured to cover all those aged 28 and above. Many vaccines have started arriving in the country and the vaccine rollout program will be expedited to ensure that those eligible could be vaccinated in good time.”

As of August 2021, the country embarked on the second phase of the vaccination plan, targeting individuals aged between 30 and 54 years starting with those aged between 45 and 54 years, due to the limited supply of vaccines.

Despite this, and in recognition of the impact that Covid-19 has had on all sectors, frontline workers including those in the education sector, among others, were prioritised in Phase II of the vaccination plan.

The president has said that 1,009,974 doses, comprising Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna are expected to be delivered during September. This number includes the 404 494 doses of Sinovac which arrived on Sunday the 5th.

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