Vaccine Hesitancy hinders rollout of COVID-19 Vaccination

Vaccine Hesitancy hinders rollout of COVID-19 Vaccination

The delay or refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine has marred the effectiveness of the vaccination campaign in Namibia. A third of respondents from a recent WHO/Namibia survey on adherence to Covid-19 public health measures were unwilling to get vaccinated because of safety concerns. This together with the limited availability of vaccines contributed to the low uptake of the COVID-19 vaccines with only 6.3% of the Namibian population having received their first dose and 1.6% being fully vaccinated as of 28 July 2021.  It is estimated that the country may need to vaccinate at least 10,000 people per day if it’s to reach its target of 60% of the population. 

Although the hesitancy to get vaccinated is complex and context specific, it can be reduced through an effective communication campaign, availability of vaccines and building confidence amongst the public in the vaccines and health authorities.  The Namibian government with its newly launched mass media campaign aims to do just that. 

The Right Honorable Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia, Dr Saara  Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said that the campaign materials are designed to motivate and provide information on the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination process, generate awareness, assist in managing myths and misinformation and thereby helping in developing people’s trust and confidence to improve acceptance and uptake of vaccine.  She said that the campaign will assist government in rolling the vaccine by:

  • Strengthening and implementing the Communication Strategy for public education, awareness creation and management of misinformation on COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Developing and implementing a national public education and awareness mass media campaign on COVID-19 and Vaccination.
  • Engaging Regional Governors, Regional Councils, Local authorities, Faith-based leaders and Traditional leaders to participate in social mobilization campaigns towards the mass vaccination.
  • Identifying and proposing strategies to mobilize the nation to be vaccinated

Speaking at the same occasion, WHO Representative, Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses said that the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening with more than 4 million deaths and 200 million cases worldwide as of 4 August 2021.  He further said that during the week of 30 July 2021, Namibia was amongst 5 countries contributing to 76% of deaths in the WHO Africa Region. Although the country has witnessed a downward trend in new infections in the past weeks, positivity rate of 28.2% and case fatality rate of 2,6%, remain high and call for more pandemic control efforts, he emphasized.  Namibia confirmed the presence of the delta variant through genome sequencing.  Consequently, the country witnessed a rapid and exponential rise in the number of new cases reaching a total of 2 547 and 150 deaths in a single day. Cumulative as of 6 August, Namibia reported 121,043 COVID-19 confirmed cases and over 3,000 deaths.

WHO’s goal remains to support every country to vaccinate at least 10% of its population by the end of September, at least 40% by the end of this year, and 70% by the middle of next year.  However, just over half of countries have fully vaccinated 10% of their population, less than a quarter of countries have vaccinated 40%, and only 3 countries have vaccinated 70%.

Dr Sagoe-Moses said that global distribution of vaccines remains unjust. Less than 2% of all doses administered globally have been in Africa. 70% of African countries risk missing the 10% vaccination target by the end of September unless the 4 million weekly doses administered in continent increase to 21 million doses.

He commended the government on the launch of the “GET VACCINATED, HELP KICK COVID-19 OUT OF NAMIBIA” mass media campaign saying that the current vaccines are very effective in preventing death and hospitalization or severe diseases from the Delta variant. The communication materials will be tailored to current epidemic situation and uptake of vaccination over time.

He concluded his remarks by saying that vaccination is the best weapon against COVID-19 and that COVID-19 can be controlled as ‘as we have done with other vaccine-preventable diseases in the past’.  He called on all eligible Namibians to get vaccinated as a way of showing love for each other, families and loved ones.

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