President Lazarus Chakwera and Vice President Saulos Chilima will today preside over the Covid vaccine rollout exercise in Zomba and Mzuzu, respectively.
Administration of the vaccine means Malawi has added another defensive mechanism in its fight against coronavirus, others being facemask-wearing, hand-sanitising, social distancing and hand-washing.
Secretary to the President and Cabinet Zangazanga Chikhosi has indicated that Chakwera will be at Zomba Covid Field Hospital at Zomba State House starting from 11am while Chilima will be at Mzuzu Covid Field Hospital at Mzuzu Central Hospital from 12:30pm.
And, in a boost to the Covid vaccine exercise, Archbishop Thomas Msusa of the Roman Catholic Church has signalled his readiness for the jab, indicating that he would lead by example by being among the first Catholics to receive a dose of Astrazeneca vaccine.
Msusa said the coming in of the vaccine was an answer to prayers for a solution to the coronavirus challenge which, he said, has claimed the lives of priests and nuns in the last few months.
“I, as your religious leader, will be the first one to receive the vaccine. I urge all priests and the laity to go in large numbers and receive the vaccine,” Msusa told the media.
Covid has forced the Catholic Church in Malawi to change some pastoral guidelines as a preventive measure.
According to a statement from the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, which Msusa and other bishops of Malawi signed on February 5 2021, the church has suspended overnight religious singing and gatherings such as those done during funerals.
It has also suspended public memorial masses and tombstone unveiling. Further, public and traditional celebrations of initiation rites have been suspended.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda has indicated that all is set for vaccine rollout.
“The vaccine arrived in the country [on Friday] and we already informed Malawians that this vaccine [AstraZeneca] is working. Malawi will not be the first country to use this vaccine. Millions of people from other countries, including those from Europe, have already received the vaccination,” she said in Lilongwe at the Daily Covid Briefing.
Kandodo Chiponda, who is also Presidential Taskforce on Covid co- Chairperson, dispelled reports that the vaccine causes bareness in females.
One of the officials under the Expanded Programme on Immunisation in the Ministry of Health, Temwa Zengeza, indicated that vehicles carrying equipment to be used for administering the vaccine were dispatched two days ago.
“By Thursday [today], the vaccine will have arrived in all the districts. We have done this because we want it to be transported fast because it is supposed to be kept in a cold container,” she said.
So far, there are 861 vaccination centres scattered across the country, starting with frontline healthcare workers, security officers, people with underlying health conditions and the elderly.
Mzengeza said the first team of medical staff have finished training and would be administering the vaccine before imparting the knowledge in others in the near future.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.