Health Minister Dr Jonas Chanda says available scientific evidence shows overwhelmingly that vaccine deployment is key in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control.
In a statement issued to the media today, the Minister stressed that Vaccine Programme will be done cautiously on a voluntary basis and in a phased manner and on Pilot basis.
This comes following Cabinet’s approval and adoption of the acquisition, deployment and financing of Covid-19 Vaccines in the country as an additional pillar of pandemic Strategy yesterday.
“There will be no mandatory vaccination. The available scientific evidence shows overwhelmingly that vaccine deployment is key in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. Countries that have made progress in their vaccine roll-out have already shown significant reduction in transmission, severe illness and deaths reported,” the Minister explained.
And Dr Chanda disclosed that the first Pillar of initial vaccines to be rolled out under the COVAX mechanism will be AstraZeneca and subsequently the Johnson and Johnson vaccine which will be free.
“COVAX will cover 20% (3,676,791) of the eligible adult over the age of 18 years (18,383,955) population. The remaining 26% (4,761,327) of the eligible population will be covered through Pillar 2 and 3 below. The Second Pillar are vaccines that may be donated to the Country by other Governments and Cooperating Partners subject to approval of the Ministry of Health through ZAMRA, as long as they meet the criteria for efficacy and safety based on proven clinical trial , sustainability , source of manufacture and have been monitored to have been used safely in many countries. The Ministry of Health through Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) will check efficacy and safety for all vaccines,” he said.
The Minister added that the Third Pillar will cover the rest of the eligible adult population who may not be covered under Pillar one and two through Government making available funds for vaccines, and also the participation of the Private sector, with the approval of the Ministry and ZAMRA.
Dr Chanda said his Ministry will be providing key insights on the COVID-19 vaccine deployment during the daily briefings as he rolls out the programme.
He hoped that with the vaccine deployment the country can attain “herd immunity” and thus control the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Minister called on the general public to not be swayed by myths, conspiracy theories and propaganda.
“We do, however, stress the importance of maintaining our adherence to all the other facets of the public health guidance including mask wearing, hand hygiene and physical distancing. Additionally, we cannot stress enough the importance of continued community interventions to avoid transmission particularly through super spreader events. We will continue to engage our communities through the various structures in order to sustain adherence and behaviour change efforts,” he said.
And the Minister said the country has recorded 265 new cases out of 5,876 tests conducted in the last 24 hours.
He added that three deaths have also been recorded in the mentioned period of time.