MoH urges public to exercise ‘patience’

By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

BEREA – Ahead of the third consignment of the COVID-19 vaccines anticipated to jet in at the end of August, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has urged the public to be patient as the vaccines are limited for a particular target group.

The Ministry said the people who are currently being inoculated are receiving the second jab of the AstraZeneca vaccines.

In an interview with Informative Newspaper the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) Manager Nthatisi Mothisi said the next batch of Johnson and Johnson vaccines is expected from the African Union (AU) by end of August.

She said people are going in large numbers to the health facilities seeking the jabs. Mothisi said they are now administering the second doses to the target group which first received the jabs in March.

The EPI Manager said in some cases the people change their names in a quest to be vaccinated, a move which she said runs counter to the arrangements made. She further urged them to be “patient” adding that they will be vaccinated in due process.

Further allaying public worries, she said people are being vaccinated in categories and once there are many vaccines, the rollout will be expanded to accommodate many people.

The AstraZeneca vaccines require people to take two doses and the interval between the doses is 12 weeks.

One of the challenges the country faces to procure the vaccines she said is that of their global shortage and therefore cannot say how many doses will be shipped in the country for the third consignment.

The EPI Manager said the target is to vaccinate 1.4 million people.

Lesotho first received the first batch of 36 000 doses through the COVAX facility in March 3 earlier this year.

Also earlier this month, the country received the second tranche of the 36 000 AstraZeneca doses as part of the donation by France through the COVAX programme.

The COVAX facility is coordinated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in concert with Gavi (a public-private partnership arrangement), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) and the Vaccine Alliance which promote ‘equitable’ access to the vaccines by pooling the resources and buying the vaccines from the manufacturers.

“Global equitable access to a vaccine, particularly protecting health care workers and those most-at-risk is the only way to mitigate the public health and economic impact of the pandemic,” WHO said in its website.

The Royal Family was the first to receive the jab during the roll out campaign of the vaccines on March 10 at Scott Hospital in Morija.