HEALTH Minister Dr Jonas Chanda yesterday led health workers in receiving the COVID-19 vaccination.
And Dr Chanda says the country has in the last 24 hours recorded 171 new COVID-19 cases.
Meanwhile, United States Embassy interim Charge d’Affaire David Young has advised Zambians to take the COVID-19 vaccines.
During the launch of the national COVID-19 vaccination program in Zambia, Wednesday, Dr Chanda volunteered to be the first one to be vaccinated and further urged health workers to emulate him.
He also urged all eligible persons in the country to take the vaccines once their turn comes.
“As Minister of Health who is also as a health worker myself and whom his Excellency the President has entrusted the health of all Zambians, I wish to take the liberty to be the first one to receive the first vaccination dose under this consignment. I want to urge all eligible persons in the country to take theirs as well when their turn comes. And I will voluntarily offer my first arm to be vaccinated and encourage all health workers in Zambia to be vaccinated,” Dr Chanda said.
He informed the nation that the next vaccine doses under the covax facility were expected to be delivered in the country next month.
“May I take this opportunity to inform the nation that we will utilise the entire 228,000 doses to provide the first dose of vaccines to priority groups. The next vaccine doses under the covax facility are expected to be delivered in May 2021, and more consignments will follow thereafter. Other vaccines will be acquired under the different pillars earlier announced. The vaccines will be administered to all willing persons above the age of 18 years in keeping with our national vaccine deployment plan. We will begin with our frontline health care workers, in both public and private health facilities,” Dr Chanda said.
“I am therefore, very delighted to join our gallant health care workers here at the University Teaching Hospital as we kick-start this roll-out today. Other frontline workers performing core societal functions including, but not limited to, the police, defence and security personnel, immigration officers, teachers, judiciary staff, traditional leaders, the clergy, truck and public transport drivers and the media will follow.”
And Dr Chanda said the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting would work closely with his ministry and other stakeholders to ensure that accurate and timely information on the COVID-19 vaccination programme was provided to the public.
“The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will work very closely with the Ministry of Health and all other stakeholders to ensure that accurate and timely information on the COVID-19 vaccination programme is provided to the members of the public in order for them to be well-informed and avoid rumours, myths and misconceptions. Allow me to reiterate that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and efficacious and the Ministry of Health through ZAMRA has heightened pharmacovigilance and close monitoring countries which already started vaccination. As I indicated in my press brief yesterday, we are continuously monitoring any reported safety concerns associated with vaccinations,” he said.
“We note that in Africa unlike other parts of the world, the majority of events reported are commonly acceptable side effects, such as pain or slight swelling at the site of injection, rather than severe adverse events following immunization (AEFI). We have put in place a robust pharmacovigilance system to ensure we closely follow up any reported side effects.”
Meanwhile, Dr Chanda said 171 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the last 24 hours out of 6,640 tests conducted.
He said no COVID-19 death was reported in the last 24 hours.
“We recorded 171 new cases out of 6,640 tests conducted representing a positivity of 2.6 percent. This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date to 90,389. The breakdown of the new cases by province are as follows; Central three, Copperbelt seven, Eastern 36, Luapula 15, Lusaka 46, Muchinga one, Northern 14, North-Western 43, Southern five and Western one. It is uplifting to note no COVID-19 deaths reported in the last 24 hours. The cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths recorded to date now stands at 1,229, classified as 687 COVID deaths and 542 COVID-19 associated deaths. 97 discharges were recorded from both the COVID-19 isolation facilities and home management bringing the number of recoveries to 88,230,” Dr Chanda said.
United States Embassy interim Charge d’Affaire David Young urged Zambians to take the COVID-19 vaccines, assuring them that the vaccines were safe.
“On behalf of the administration of Joe Biden, I am very proud to share our excitement and congratulations on this important day for Zambia. Having COVID vaccines in Zambia means that we can safeguard our frontline health workers from the next wave of cases and prevent severe disease in the most vulnerable. These are our heroes and this allows us to protect them. I urge everyone, all Zambians to take the vaccine when you have the opportunity. These vaccines are safe, they save lives from the deadly coronavirus. This is our experience, in the United States we have lost nearly 600,000 people to COVID-19 but we are turning the corner because of vaccines,” said Young.