Thursday, April 25, 2024

MoH offers incentives to get people vaccinated

As part efforts to motivate as many Batswana to get vaccinated, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has moved to offer incentives to get more people vaccinated with Covid-19 vaccine.

It has since emerged that Botswana is not only facing the outbreak of a fifth wave but is also racing against time to vaccinate as many people as possible as vaccines are expected to expire in the next few months.

This publication can reveal that the Ministry is rolling out the programme through the Kweneng District Health Management Team. In a note addressed to Kweneng DMHT Covid-19 vaccination sites, calls on members of the public who have not taken their Covid-19 vaccines in the form of first, second and booster doses to kindly do so at the vaccination sites.

“Those who will be taking their vaccines from the 28th March to the 1st April 2022 stand a chance to win a ticket to attend ‘Soul fill up Festival, Franco’ to be held at the National Stadium.”

Meanwhile when delivering a speech last week before Parliament, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Edwin Dikoloti cautioned the nation against being complacent.

“Although so far not as deadly as the Delta variant, the Omicron variant has proved to be the most infectious and at the height of the fourth wave, thousands of people were infected within a short space of time, both in Botswana and across the world,” he said.

The minister added that, “This calls for greater vigilance on our part as a country and people. In recent days, we have seen a new surge of infections in Asia and some parts of Europe.”

He further stated that, “We call upon Batswana to remain vigilant as we face this possibility of a fifth wave.”  

He said for purposes of smoothening international travel, the definition of being fully vaccinated in Botswana no longer include a booster shot. 

Dikoloti said having completed the primary vaccine series is considered sufficient for one to be allowed entry, without the need to present a negative PCR test result. 

He said only those who are partially vaccinated or are not vaccinated at all are required to produce PCR test result and further be required to undergo COVID-19 testing at ports of entry. This arrangement serves two main purposes helps avert the importation of new cases and new COVID-19 variants into the country, said Dikoloti.

“It must be noted that though PCR testing is helpful in filtering those with the COVID-19 virus from those without, it is not 100% perfect since an individual can test today, be infected with COVID-19 after submitting the sample but receive a negative PCR test result the following day when they collect their results,” he said.

Dikoloti explained that if allowed entry, such an individual can bring the disease and other foreign variants, thus eroding the immunity that may have been built over the past year.

“ The minister said second intervention “we made as a way of further easing COVID-19 restrictions in Botswana was to reduce self-isolation period to a minimum of five (5) days for those fully vaccinated and showing mild or no symptoms of the disease.”

He said those who are partially vaccinated but showing mild or no COVID-19 symptoms will now undergo 7 days self-isolation period.

Dikoloti said it is only those who show moderate to severe symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not, who will be required to isolate for 10 days.

All these interventions, he explained, are meant to gradually ease COVID-19 restrictions first introduced when the pandemic broke out and open up the economy so that it could slowly but surely revert to its pre-COVID performance rate. 

“we trust that Batswana will not interpret the ease in restrictions to mean that COVID-19 has now been totally defeated. The pandemic remains an existential threat to our lives and livelihoods,” he said.

He further stated that, “We need to continue with the two tried and tested approaches to fighting this pandemic as advised by health care workers.”  

He encouraged Batswana to take up COVID-19 vaccines if they have not yet done so.

“I also call upon those who have not yet taken their boosters to do so if due. Let us continue to observe COVID-19 protocols as advised by health care workers,” he said.

Dikoloti said the continuous emergence of new variants of the SARS-Cov-2 virus pose a serious threat to the future of this country and humanity in general. 

He said the country’s infection figures have been going down dramatically, to below 1000 cases.

“This should not lull us into complacency,” said Dikoloti.

He therefore called on Batswana to instead follow health protocols and take up COVID-19 vaccines as advised by health care workers. “It is only through these actions and efforts that we can eventually defeat this deadly disease,” he said.

Dikoloti revealed that preliminary research on the COVID-19 pandemic indicates that the disease may evolve into an endemic stage. “This means that the disease may stay with us for a longer time than we had anticipated,” said Dikoloti.


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