MINISTRY of Health Permanent Secretary for administration Dr George Magwende says Zambia is still below 30 per cent vaccination rate.

And Dr Magwende has urged citizens to only seek vaccination from Ministry of Health designated centres to avoid coming into contact with fake vaccines.

In an interview, Dr Magwende hoped the vaccination rate would be 70 per cent by June.

“We need to be real to our selves and our loved ones we need to encourage one another to get the vaccines, it’s the only protection that we have. Now if you look at our colleagues in the west, they are now going in crowds, others are saying we don’t need face masks any longer because most of the people are vaccinated and if you recall, the President gave this country a target that by June, 70% of those that are eligible to be vaccinated be vaccinated. The President indicated that because he knew once we do that, this country will be safe but we are below 30% vaccination. We hope, as we push this agenda, we hope by June at least 70% of the eligible individuals get vaccinated,” Dr Magwende said.

And Dr Magwende urged people to be cautious about where they get vaccinated.

“Unfortunately, I have not gotten link of the fake Covid vaccinations circulating but what I can say to that is, when one goes to Ministry of Health facilities where we are offering vaccinations, one will get authentic and appropriate vaccinations. I think people might get excited about these vaccinations and try to make money where they are not supposed to make money, and run backyard facilities to give vaccinations. I think, I would like to discourage people going to backyard facilities to receive these vaccinations we have designated Ministry of Health facilities where one should get but I will engage my colleagues about this story, what the source is and the authenticity of the story,” Dr Magwende said.

He said testing for Covid-19 was free and no one was supposed to pay for it.

“You are aware to say if you are traveling for example and you need to have a Covid test and certificate, you know, you are required to pay, I think it would have been an issue of communication. I think you and I know to say if you are not feeling too well and one of the things we need to check on you is Covid, we don’t charge. Testing a targeted patient that has a fever, coughing or maybe headaches, body pains, we are testing for free, it’s just like the vaccines, the vaccines no one has to pay for those. So I want to believe it’s an issue of communication, otherwise services that are not supposed to be paid for, no one is supposed to be allowed to charge,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Magwende said the perceived shortage of drugs in the country had not affected Covid-19 services.

“The issue of shortage didn’t come as one of the priorities because the shortage of medication issue is just a narrative that is being paddled by our colleagues, of course, whose plans and intentions might not be known. Yes we might not have the adequate stock that we need but it will be an over statement to say shortage. However, you know that Covid vaccines, that is a different package, the testing for Covid, that’s a different package, it doesn’t come with the essential medications and the essential laboratory commodities, so Covid testing, Covid vaccines, those we are covered at 100%,” Dr Magwende said.

He said doctors around the world were still studying Covid-19 as it was still evolving.

“Covid is a new viral infection, a new respiratory viral infection that is yet to be fully understood and documented as to how it affects humans. Primarily Covid affects our respiratory system the lungs, the bronchus. The propensity for all the older men and women to succumb to this disease are higher and also these individuals that have other commonalities, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease they tend to suffer severe disease when they are confronted with Covid,” said Dr Magwende.

“So illness that reduce your immune system either by the primary disease itself or indeed by the treatment of that particular disease tend to cause severe to render one be severely ill when there is Covid. So primary the disease affects the lungs the other organs like the heart, the brain, the kidneys we are yet to fully understand has to how Covid affects them. Do you realize again that when you look at the first, second, third, and fourth wave the stories being told are different from one wave to other, so we are still learning the variations of this Covid disease”.