Government has launched the first ever COVID – 19 Vaccination Programme, targeting a population of 18 years and above.
Dr. Chanda launched the programme at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) where he led his Permanent Secretary Kennedy Malama, Chief Bunda Bunda the 10th of Rufunsa, among other notable figures who were vaccinated.
Those that accompanied the Minister at the launch also included Permanent Secretary for Chiefs and Traditional Affairs, Ms. Yande Mwape, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio, European Union Ambassador, Mr. Jacek Jankowski, The Charge’ de Affaires United States Embassy, Mr. David Young, Swedish Ambassador, Ms. Anna Maj Hultgard, Indian High Commissioner, Mr. N.J. Gangte, Canadian High Commissioner, Ms. Pamela O’Donnell, Japanese Ambassador, Mr. Ryuta Mizuuchi, Civil Society Organization representative, Ms. Caren Sichinga and representatives from the Saudi Arabia, Germany and United Kingdom Governments.
Dr. Chanda informed the gathering that the country would utilise the entire 228,000 doses to provide the first dose of vaccines to priority groups. He announced that the next vaccine doses under the COVAX Facility were expected to be delivered in May, 2021, with more consignments to follow thereafter.
The vaccines will be administered to all willing persons above the age of 18 years in keeping with the National Vaccine Deployment Plan. And Dr Chanda also said that Provincial and District Launches would be held country-wide over the next few days as the vaccines reach every province and district.
The Minister said vaccinations would be conducted at selected vaccination sites in each district as well as in some outreach posts. The Health Minister said Government under the stewardship of President Edgar Lungu, had been very clear and consistent about the COVID – 19 Vaccination Programme in Zambia, stating that the programme was an additional tool in the response to the COVID – 19 pandemic in order to curb the further spread of the infection and protect the population from severe illness and death, as well as mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on the economy.
“However, I will continue to emphasize, as I have done before, that Government has resolved that the COVID – 19 Vaccination Programme will be implemented in a cautious and phased up manner, and on a pilot and voluntary basis,” We will begin with our frontline health care workers, in both public and private health facilities.
I am, therefore, very delighted to join our gallant health care workers here at the University Teaching Hospitals as we kick-start this roll-out today. Other frontline workers performing core societal functions including, but not limited to, the police, defense and security personnel, immigration officers, teachers, judiciary staff, traditional leaders, the clergy and the media will follow, ” Dr Chanda said.
Speaking at the same event, EU Ambassador to Zambia, Jacek Jankowski said the EU was among the biggest supporters of the COVAX Facility with a commitment of USD 2.96 billion to date. Earlier, UN Resident Coordinator, Coumba Mar Gadio and US Charge’ de Affaires, David Young, called on Zambians to get vaccinated as the vaccines were safe, adding that it was the only way to bring the pandemic to an end.