* By now after one year since vaccination was rolled it should have been at 12%
* Ministry of Health encourages people availability of AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson in all health facilities
* As of Tuesday, 863,025 people are fully vaccinated; 1,135,654 have had their first jab while 415 have had the Booster vaccine
* There were 11 new CoVID-19 cases registered, 56 new recoveries and one death from Blantyre that was unvaccinated
By Steven Godfrey Mkweteza, Correspondent & Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express
The Ministry of Health bemoans that the uptake of CoVID-19 vaccination still remains relatively very low despite various interventions that have been put in place that encourage people to get vaccinated against the pandemic.
At the opening of a 5-day training in Blantyre on activities to scale up the uptake among the African member states, Dr Benson Chilima — director of public health institute of Malawi under the Ministry of Health said the country still have a long way to go in order to reach the set up targets of achieving 70% of CoVID-19 vaccination by June 2023.
He said the Ministry had set to increase the uptake by 30% by June this year; 50% by December and the 70% set for June next year.
“But this is unlikely to be achieved due to various challenges that affect our interventions,” he said. “At the moment, we are at around 4-5% and we would have at least reached 12% by now.
Only Ntchisi has achieved its 10% target as compared to other districts in the country.
Chilima cited the growing misconceptions due to false information, social, cultural and religious beliefs and poor community civic awareness as some of the attributable elements fueling the negative uptake of the vaccines.
He said among others, the government has introduced outreach interventions such as mobile clinics or door-to-door vaccinations but the activities were still not making a dent in scaling up the uptake.
“We could have put together the organised civic education campaigns to cover the large population targeting people such as chiefs, parents, children and religious leaders so as to dispel the misconceptions and that people should be aware of the basic facts about vaccinations but funding has been the deterrent factor.”
He said there should also be incentives to encourage people to get vaccinations.
“This should have been done to make sure that all people have enough and concrete information about the goodness of vaccinations.
“Those in authority could have introduced serious programs about the same — on television and radio stations as well as using all media outlets by maximising available journalists to help passing information to masses, as a way of solving the problems.”
However, the doctor said since the country is registering a positivity rate of under 1% of CoVID-19 cases, it would be an awareness challenge to convince people to get vaccinated.
Since the country launched vaccinations in March 2021, it has received over 4 million doses of vaccinnes such as Johnstone & Johnson, Astra Zeneca and Pfizer.
Technical officer on CoVID-19 response for Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Yaya Kande said Malawi needs to intensify scaling up the vaccination uptake to be at par with other African states on achieving the targets.
“There is need for a comprehensive plan on a working tools for the next three years so as to increase the numbers. The country needs to explore ways on what is making the interventions not to reach the targets.
The training was organized by CDC in partnership with the Master Card Foundation and the Ministry of Health and CDC and Kande assured that they are ready to support all planned activities in terms of various resource support.
In its situation report of Tuesday, March 15, the presidential task force on CoVID-19 indicated that 863,025 people are fully vaccinated; 1,135,654 have had their first jab while 415 have had the Booster vaccine.
The report further said in the past 24 hours of Tuesday, the country registered 11 new CoVID-19 cases, 56 new recoveries and one death from Blantyre who was unvaccinated.
All new cases are locally transmitted — 7 from Blantyre, two from Lilongwe, and one each from Mangochi and Ntcheu.
Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 85,515 cases since the outbreak including 2,624 deaths at case fatality rate of 3.07%. Of these cases, 2,830 are imported infections and 82,685 are locally transmitted.
The report also indicates that cumulatively, 76,810 cases have now recovered at the rate of 89.82% while 232 were lost to follow-up — bringing the total number of active cases to 5,804.
There were also two new admissions and no new discharges from the treatment units and currently, nine active cases are currently hospitalised with having the highest at eight and one in Mulanje. One case is not vaccinated and one is fully vaccinated.
The positive cases out of the total number tested in the past 24 hours of Tuesday translates to a positivity rate of 2.10% and the weekly positivity rate (seven days moving average) is at 2.4%. Cumulatively, 554,744 tests have been conducted in the country so far.
The Ministry of Health thus is reminding the general public that the AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available in all the health facilities in the country.
Co-chairperson of the taskforce, Health Minister Khumbize-Kandodo Chiponda encourages the public that all aged 12 years and above to get vaccinated, “even those who might have previously been infected by CoVID-19”
“Getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from infection with the virus that causes CoVID-19 provides added protection as it boosts your immune system.
“People who already had CoVID-19 and do not get vaccinated after their recovery are more likely to get CoVID-19 again than those who get vaccinated after their recovery.
“If you currently have COVID-19, you should wait to get your vaccine until your symptoms are gone (if you had symptoms) and you have completed your isolation period.”
For CoVID-19 vaccination certificate queries, the public is urged to call toll free 929 or email email@example.com or sending WhatsApp message to +265887371288.
“No one is safe until everyone else is safe,” the Health Minister said. “Get fully vaccinated; wear face mask; protect yourself and your loved ones and protect everyone.”