WESTERN Province Minister Kapelwa Mbangweta says Western Province is so far leading in terms of the vaccination rate.

In an interview recently, Mbangweta said he was impressed with the vaccination rate in the province because it was, in fact, the vaccines which run out, and not that people were shunning them.

“So far it’s going on well and Western is leading countrywide so far at 34.3 percent. We have a target of 678,500 and over 296,000 are fully vaccinated in the province. The campaigns include door-to-door vaccinations. The positivity rate on daily tests done is the measure of positivity and at the peak of the 4th wave, we reached 40% in December and January then there was a steady decline. We are now at an average weekly positivity of 3 to 6 %. Western Province has had a total of 134 Covid direct and associated deaths since the inception of the pandemic. This year, 13 deaths. No death in the last three months. We notice surges during the cold months and fluctuating positivity, we, therefore, anticipate that we may get another wave. To mitigate [that], we vaccinate, observe preventive measures and prepare our health institutions to manage cases,” he said.

“Yes, I’m impressed with the vaccination rate in the province because as a matter of fact, it is the vaccines which run out and not that fact that people are not coming to get vaccinated. Which is opposite from almost what happened initially, where you had vaccines and people were trying to tell people to say ‘no, when you get vaccinated this will happen’, so on and so forth. But now it’s the opposite. People have voluntarily and happily stepped forward. Yes even in the villages. If you go to a church in the village, you will find that they have got the detergent out there and we were also helped by some of the companies through their corporate social responsibility, companies like PHL. They were putting these washing containers at public places and along the road, and other institutions also took these things to the schools. So that has helped a lot because they penetrated in the villages and so on. Now you go to this school you will find this container and it sort of got into our brain now that we have to do this.”

Mbangweta said lawmakers had also been carrying out sensitisation activities on the vaccinations and the pandemic in constituencies.

“Yes, the people are aware because we have been carrying out sensitisation activities from the provincial administration as MPs, including myself in our constituencies. We tell the constituency about the dangers of Covid and then how to protect ourselves. The masking up, social distancing and the washing of hands, all those things we do and explain. And you also remember that we have had to re-launch the vaccination. So, people [during] that time got vaccinated. Of course [we have had] public vaccinations including ourselves, health matters, to show actually that vaccination is the precondition to good health in this arrangement. Challenges almost arose because of the people, especially here on blogs, I’m sure you were reading that if you get vaccinated you have to die after some time. During that period, people almost started believing but again that was dispelled because [they were] seeing people getting vaccinated publicly. So that helped,” said Mbangweta.

“The churches also, especially in our case the Roman Catholic have been very good in terms of sensitisation. So the vaccination also went through the districts and these other areas. At some point, of course, [in] certain districts the injection rate was a little bit worrying. Now the situation has stabilised and everybody now understands that there is this big issue, we need to protect ourselves.”