MINISTRY of Health Permanent Secretary for Technical Services Dr Luckson Kasonka says not many people are going to get the COVID-19 booster vaccines as a number of them first want to receive the primary vaccination.

Meanwhile, the country has in the last 24 hours recorded 5,555 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths.

In an interview, Dr Kasonka said a number of people were going for the primary vaccination, which was approaching 20 percent of the targeted population.

“We have also started to take data on the people getting boosters. As usual, Zambians wait until the last minute. So for now not so many are coming for the boosters, everyone wants first the primary vaccination because not many have the primary vaccination. We are just approaching 20 percent which is still a very small number. We have wanted to close the year tomorrow by 30 percent, so we have a shortfall of 10 percent,” he said.

“So not many people yet are coming for the boosters because many people are coming for the primary. When they get the primary [vaccination] then they will start coming for the booster as well. So for now a lot of people are coming for the primary, because they have seen what is happening, the virus is here and people have started dying because of the virus. So a lot of people are responding and that is the nature of us Zambians.”

When asked whether COVID-19 boosters had the same side effects as the primary vaccinations, Dr Kasonka said the side effects were minimal for the booster vaccines, and further urged citizens who were not yet vaccinated to get the primary vaccination.

“The side effects would be much less minimum because your body now has been sensitized. If you have the booster it will be very minimal at all because in your body there are already antibodies from the primary vaccination. A booster is not obligatory. There are certain people who are more vulnerable to infections than others. These are front line workers like myself, these are journalists like you who are meeting different people everywhere, these are older people over the age of 65, these are people with comorbidities like heart disease, TB, you know long standing complications, Kidney Disease and so on. The booster means the primary vaccinations they have got should be boosted and should be enhanced, because it is likely that the primary vaccination can wear out,” said Dr Kasonka.

“So if the primary vaccination wears out they remain relatively vulnerable if they have other conditions that compromise their immunity, so that is why they need a booster. But a person who has had primary vaccination is healthy. So it is not me to decide whether the willingness is up to the public to heed our advice. I will persuade everybody to get the primary vaccination because that is very important.”