NAMIBIAN health authorities are ready to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine to residents of the country.
The country is expected to receive enough doses of the vaccine as part of the program to immunize 60% of the population.
The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Kalumbi Shangula while addressing Parliament said that the ministry has received a letter from the Covax Facility stating that Namibia can expect to be distributed doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine within the next two weeks.
The minister said Namibia has made a significant financial commitment to purchase doses sufficient to vaccinate 20% of the target population through the Covax Facility.
“We have put in place mechanisms to ensure country readiness to roll out the Covid-19 vaccines and established a Vaccine Taskforce and developed the National Covid-19 Deployment and Vaccination Plan. The Task Force continues to review the latest evidence, training needs of our health workers and all regulatory, legal, and safety frameworks to ensure a high-quality vaccination campaign,” he said.
The health minister said the Namibia Medical Regulatory Council is providing the necessary guidance and regulatory oversight and added that the vaccines will go through a stringent evaluation to ensure that they are safe and efficacious.
“In Namibia, Polio, Measles, and Tuberculosis Prevention Vaccines have worked very well to protect our people and to date, we have those diseases under control. We hope to achieve the same impact with the COVID-19 vaccination campaign which will be rolled out under the Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI),” he said.
Dr. Shangvula also pointed out that Namibia will collaborate with Botswana in areas related to the procurement of vaccine, regulatory approval of vaccines, delivery of vaccines, bilateral agreement for vaccination of citizens who reside in each other`s country, sharing of evidence and best practice in vaccine deployment, technical exchange visits, and training, sharing surveillance reports, safety, and reports of any Adverse Events following immunization (AEFI) and other opportunities for collaboration as they emerge.
“Namibia will procure vaccines to immunize at least 60% of the population against COVID-19. This is the minimum required in order for our country to achieve herd immunity. It is pleasing that private medical aid schemes and business community have expressed readiness to complement government efforts in the procurement and participation in the vaccination campaign,” he said.
According to Dr. Shangula, the government is also involved in discussions with governments and manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines in countries such as China, the Russian Federation, India, and the United States of America in order to secure additional vaccine supplies to cover the remaining 40% of the population.
He said all the vaccines that are currently available are acceptable to Namibia. The choice of the vaccine takes into consideration the availability of the vaccine, cold chain imperatives as well as cost.