CHIEF Nyamphande of the Nsenga-speaking people of Eastern Province says people in his chiefdom are reluctant to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because they usually do not show symptoms when sick.

In an interview, Chief Nyamphande said people did not take the illness seriously because they recovered without much problems.

“Vaccination has been slow. I think only this past week after keeping on drumming the headmen, we actually managed to get about 200 vaccinated at one location. So the big problem for us is they are not sick. So when you are not sick most of them do not want to get vaccinated because they say I am okay. We are still sensitizing. In as far as Covid, the only truth is that when we had big numbers in Eastern Province, we did get affected and we actually managed to lock down the village and that sort of reduced it quite a little bit. But we did not have as many deaths, we thank God for that. Whereas that is a good thing, our people do not take the illness seriously because they are recovering. So we kind of have to keep drumming it,” he said.

“I have been going round, they have come to the palace and I get the jab and everybody sees but it is a real battle for us. I would not say there is resistance but I think it is just when somebody is not too interested. You also have to remember that at the time they are doing it now, people are harvesting their crops. So if you do not go to your field to harvest, somebody is going to steal your crops. So do you go and get a vaccine or do you go and harvest your crops? So I think the timing is also important. Additionally, by the time we were receiving some of the vaccines in the rural areas, the people had already dispersed.”

Chief Nyamphande said sensitsation programmes were being conducted in conjunction with the Ministry of Health in order to increase the number of vaccinated people.

“So one of the challenges that we had and I think the Ministry of Health is trying to overcome is to take the vaccine to the people. Instead of putting a centre and they have to find transport money to go to town and remember they are not sick. So they are not motivated whatsoever to get to any place like that. So what is happening is that there is a lot of sensitisation. Every time we go, we tell them if covid gets to you, I am going to be a chief without people,” said Chief Nyamphande.

“So I think we have forgotten about the myths because all of us that took the vaccine are alive and nothing has changed. We do conduct sensitisation programmes with our headmen during quarterly meetings. Obviously, we have to work with the Ministry of Health to make sure vaccines are available. When we are giving land certificates, that is when we get everybody together so they can get vaccinated. But everything is all about sensitisation.”