As over 302,206 people, representing 2.7 percent of the targeted 11 million Malawians have received the first dose of Covid vaccine, the Ministry of Health has said administration of the second dose will start in June instead of May as initially planned.
Administration of Oxford’s AstraZeneca Vaccine started on March 11, 2021, a programme that was launched by President Lazarus Chakwera in Zomba.
Secretary for Health, Charles Mwansambo, said the ministry will soon give directions to Malawians who are supposed to get the second jab in May.
“We will be making a public announcement to give you directions. As you are aware, recent studies have shown that the recommended time to start using the second dose is after 12 weeks. So for us Malawi our plan is to start giving the second dose on the third of June,” Mwansambo said.
He emphasised that the 512,000 doses that the country received will be used for the first dose only and that the next batch comprising 900,000 doses from the Covax facility will start arriving by May end.
Malawi first received a batch of 360,000 doses of Covid vaccine early March under the Covax programme. A few weeks later, the country received other allotments of 50,000 doses from India and 102,000 doses from the African Union (AU).
Out of the 102,000 doses from AU, 16,440 expired.
“The current low uptake can be blamed on the vaccine that we took out of the system. People thought all the vaccine got damaged, but that is not true. We still have vaccines that we are giving out and the numbers are picking up,” Mwansambo said.
Health rights activist Maziko Matemba said Malawians should learn from what is happening in India where most people who did not get the Covid vaccine have been heavily affected by the new variant of the virus in the country.
“The coming of the new variant of the virus is an opportunity for the government to popularise the vaccine so that more people get vaccinated.
“Because what has happened in India is the same thing that has been happening here; people were reluctant. So the government needs to re-strategise and get more people vaccinated,” Matemba said