HEALTH Minister Dr Jonas Chanda has announced that the first consignment of the COVID-19 vaccines under the COVAX facility is scheduled to arrive in the country on Monday April 12, this year.
Speaking in Parliament, Friday morning, Dr Chanda said the consignment would consist of an initial 228,000 doses of the Covishield commonly known as Astrazeneca manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
He insisted that citizens should not fall prey to myths or misconceptions, assuring them that the benefits of being vaccinated outweigh the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The government of the Republic of Zambia is pleased to announce that the first consignment of COVID-19 vaccines under the COVAX facility is scheduled to arrive at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport on Monday April 12, 2021 at 14:35hrs. This consignment will consist of an initial 228,000 doses of the Covishield commonly known as AstraZeneca manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. This is the only one of the vaccines in the basket approved by Cabinet. COVAX facility will cover 20 percent of the eligible adult population above 18 years old. In the spirit of transparency and accountability, members of the press will be invited to witness the arrival of this consignment,” Dr Chanda said.
“More consignments of COVID-19 vaccines are expected to follow in due course and the nation will be informed accordingly. While all adults above the age of 18 are eligible to be vaccinated, administration will be in accordance with the prioritisation criteria as outlined in the National Vaccine Deployment Plan to ensure that those that are at greatest risks receive the vaccines first. While they are reported very rare side effects of all vaccines; whether Astrazeneca, Johnson and Johnson as we read today, I want to assure you the House and the nation that the benefits of being vaccinated far outweigh the risks, including reduced transmission, reduced severity of the disease, reduced hospitalisation and indeed reduced mortality. People are urged not to fall prey to myths, misconceptions and conspiracy theories.”
Dr Chanda further reiterated that government had developed a four pillar system for the COVID-19 vaccine program.
“The government has four pillars of the COVID vaccine program. Pillar one is the COVAX facility which is backed by the United Nations, the World Health Organisations and others. The vaccines that are arriving on Monday are free. On the second pillar, other countries will be donating or cooperating partners will be donating to Zambia. Again, that will be free because those are donations. So, pillar one and pillar two are free. Then of course we have allowed the private sector and I am happy to say that we just concluded our meetings with the private sector today. Those Zambians who feel they can access the vaccine through the private sector will be given that opportunity. I am sure there is a cost attached to that. Then lastly, the government in terms of covering any other person who may be left behind, we have to look for resources and that also will be free. So anything government, COVAX will be free,” stated Dr Chanda.