MINISTRY of Health Permanent Secretary for Technical Services Professor Lackson Kasonka has urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before the vaccines expire so that money is not wasted.

In an interview, Prof Kasonka said certain vaccines expired, not due to negligence, but because some people did not want to get vaccinated.

“Different vaccines have different shelf lives just like all medicines. When you get a certain batch of medicine it has to expire at a certain point. So you have to use that vaccine before it expires. So there are those which were produced early, so they will expire soon if we don’t use them. What we received is another batch [of vaccines] which has another expiry date that comes much later, maybe in two years. So some vaccines, if not used, will expire. It’s not because of negligence it’s because people are not coming through to use it and the same happens with medicines, if you don’t use it, it will expire,” he said.

“So medicines just like vaccines will have to be used within a period of time from the time of manufacturing. So what we are encouraging the people is please come through and get the vaccines before it expires. If it expires, we throw it away we don’t give it to the people when it expires and that is a waste of money. Not our fault, not anybody’s fault, but the fault of those people who are not coming to get the vaccine.”

And Prof Kasonka said the Ministry of Health would relaunch the vaccination campaign on May 7 to remind people to get vaccinated.

“Vaccination for Covid has been ongoing but we want…you see, people think Covid has toned down. So people have put their guard down. If you see, some are not even wearing masks, some are not even hand washing, hand sanitizing. So people think that Covid is gone, we don’t think that is true. The cold season is coming and the Covid spread might accelerate because Covid appears to transmit easily in the cold season. So what we want is to get as many people as possible vaccinated, because without vaccines a lot of people will get infected,” he said.

“So we are going to relaunch the vaccination campaign on the 7th of May. Relaunch is just reminding people that please get vaccinated, vaccines are there and they are going to be vaccinated so that we get at least 70 percent of the people covered by the vaccine. So that’s the relaunch that we are going to do. But we have got over three million doses of vaccines still waiting for people to come up and take it up for their vaccinations.”

Prof Kasonka said the ministry also received 600,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses from the Chinese government.

“Chinese supplies Sinopharm. Sinopharm is a Chinese version of the COVID-19 vaccine. So we got 600,000 doses. Initially, they had pledged 1,000,000 doses and earlier in February this year we got 400,000 doses, and this was the remainder. This was the balance from the 1,000,000, the 600,000 doses which we received on Saturday,” said Prof Kasonka.