PHARMACIST Jerome Kanyika says there is need for the country to also consider extending the COVID-19 vaccinations to infants, so that a huge population is protected.

In an interview, Kanyika said getting vaccinated was the only sure way of protecting oneself against the new COVID-19 variant.

“I think one thing that we need to understand is that we have yes, the new variant that is coming in the country because all countries have opened, but the only protection that we are supposed to have currently is for us to get vaccinated. If we are not vaccinated, we are going to have a big problem. So like the way we have detected a new variant, we need to get worried because this is a period where it’s a cold season here in Zambia and we know very well that in the cold season we have an increase in the number of flu and coughs. Such kinds of diseases are the diseases that we see on the rise. Now with the new variant, it means that we may start having new cases of COVID or the number of cases of COVID increasing, which may be due to the same variant. And the only sure way we need to protect ourselves is by making sure that we all get vaccinated,” he said.

Kanyika said the fact that billions of people were vaccinated worldwide entailed that the vaccines were safe.

“As we have seen that currently we have vaccinated more than three billion people worldwide and this in itself entails that the vaccines are very much safe. If three billion people can be vaccinated and they are very much okay, that tells you to say we are dealing or we have a medication that is working so well for the people. And not only that, we also need the Ministry of Health, [it] needs to step up its work or job in terms of the vaccination. We cannot be vaccinating only from 12 years going up. As you know very well that our friends have gone from, now 6 months going up. As we are starting this week, the United States of America are going to roll out the COVID vaccination, from as young as 6 months going up will be eligible to get vaccinated,” he said.

“The vaccines have already been developed and the public or the people will be getting vaccinated starting from the infants. This is where we are supposed also to be moving as a country so that at least we protect a lot of our members of the community and a lot of our citizens. The only way out is for us to get vaccinated.”

He called for more sensitisation among members of the public on the importance of vaccines.

“And the way we have developed the vaccines for COVID, it shows you that we are winning against COVID. Which we should as members of the public, help out the government by vaccinating our children and vaccinating ourselves. What we need to do is to tell the people, to tell the members of the public about how good the vaccine is and how many people have been vaccinated. I’m vaccinated and I have received the first dose and the booster dose, I’m still alive, I’m still healthy, I’m still okay and I’m protected against the COVID. Same with a lot of other people in other parts of the world you see. So these are the facts that we need to put across for the people to know that what we have been giving is something that has worked and it’s something that people are using,” said Kanyika.

“When you go to higher populated countries like China, 95 percent of their population are vaccinated. When you go to Europe, 80 percent of the Europeans are vaccinated. When you go to other parts of the continent, you will find that they have a huge number of people who are vaccinated, go to Israel you will find Israel have more than 95 percent of their population vaccinated. It’s only here in Africa and also Zambia where we are having resistance. So we need to keep giving the people the facts. It’s only us that are going to convince members of the public.”