FORMER health minister Dr Brian Chituwo says President Hakainde Hichilema’s presence at the relaunch of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Thursday will help generate confidence in citizens who are sceptical about vaccines.

And Pharmaceutical expert Jerome Kanyika has called on government to put in place policies which will ensure mandatory vaccination if the country is to meet the set targets.

In an interview, Thursday, Dr Chituwo hailed President Hichilema’s decision to re-launch the covid vaccination campaign.

“There were times also when as minister, it would be very appropriate for me to officiate a function. But then one would analyse what would be the impact of a minister officiating? When you add the President, then the people will perceive that this is an important thing which must be done, which ought to be done. I think that the President has decided to relaunch the COVID vaccinations for two reasons: one, to generate confidence in those unvaccinated that ‘look, this is good for our nation’. Because believe me, there was a time you recall we lost so many, especially my age group and then it went on to these younger ones 35, 40. So as a reminder, the weight of the President is likely to persuade those sceptical,” said Dr Chituwo.

“Number two, it also cements his decision to appoint a COVID coordinator at State House that ‘look, he means what he says’. So that would help not only the public but also the professionals because one of them is there. Thirdly, it is clear that we have not been successful with vaccinations. The President himself shared that only three percent. One needs to have at least 60 percent of the population vaccinated then you can be confident that there is protection in the population.”

And in a separate interview, Kanyika said there was need for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination if vaccination coverage was to improve.

“I’m advocating for mandatory vaccination for all the frontline workers, this includes you the journalists, me the pharmacist, including all the shop attendants, police officers, pastors and other frontline workers who meet the people on a daily basis. Without that, then what we are planning to do is not going to be something workable. When we started vaccinating in Zambia, we started the issue of people being vaccinated in April 2020. Up to today we have only vaccinated about 3.8 percent and that 3.8 percent also includes people who have died. So we don’t know the number if we remove those people who have died,” said Kanyika.

“So in that situation, it will tell you to say whatever we have been talking about, about us going in a voluntary way of vaccination is not helping out. Let us do what other people are doing. We have seen what ‘big brother’ is doing. In this case I’m talking about the European Union and the UK. They are going and moving the mandatory way of vaccination. We have seen some public workers in the USA being given a deadline for them to be vaccinated and without that, if you can’t produce a COVID vaccination certificate you will not be allowed to go for work. We have seen the same thing happening in most European countries. So for me, I feel what the minister is supposed to do is push for the regulation of policies to have mandatory vaccination of the people so that we can improve on our numbers and our consumption of vaccines. And then we can think of opening up for better and for good.”