Malawi target 13.2 million in COVID-19 vaccine drive

A cross section of people during the launch of COVID0-19 EXPRESS drive

Following the COVID-19 variant concerns that have emerged, the Malawi government is now targeting 70 percent of its population to receive the jab translating to 13.2 million people.

Initially about 11 million people were targeted in the vaccination drive undertaken by Ministry of Health together with its various partners.

According to Programme Manager for Immunisation in Malawi Dr. Mike Chisema, this has been guided by scientific evidence.

He indicated that targeting 70 percent would be most ideal to achieve herd immunity; at least community protection so as it stands the figure stands at 13.2 million.

“It’s a tall order but it will be achieved. One, the issues of time; we need to make time available to deliver but to also make sure that the stocks or the vaccine supplies are also available so as long as we have these things in place, we can do that.

“I mean we have done that before; delivering 9 million doses of vaccines, a particular vaccine in the childhood population, when it comes to mass campaigns within a week we have ever done that.

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Chisema: “It’s a tall order but it will be achieved.

“The sole reason we’re not doing that now is the vaccine supplies are coming in smaller quantities, but if we had all the vaccines and all the resources in place, it’s a one or two weeks campaign. We can go flat out get people jabbed done and have another time get people jabbed done if we had 13 million doses in the country,” said Chisema.

Initially, the uptake wasn’t promising but Dr. Chisema indicated that the Ministry is now excited with the improvement in terms of uptake and availability of the shots in the country.

Two other vaccines Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer have been added to the platform in responding to the pandemic from the initial AstraZeneca and the Ministry is happy with the support from people and partners in the roll-out of the process.

The Programme Manager spoke highly of the COVID-19 express initiative stating that in week 37 of delivery of the injections, by the end of the week 80, 00 doses were administered translating to an average of 12, 000-14,000 being vaccinated daily.

Using the vaccine express modality has enabled it occupy almost each and every day of the week unlike the traditional ways which were used.

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Chisala: Supporting vial campaign aimed at speeding up the uptake of the vaccine before it expires

Speaking during a media orientation on COVID-19 vaccination best reporting practices in Dowa, Malawi Red Cross Society Director of Programmes Prisca Chisala pointed out the organization has been working with government in reducing morbidity and mortality arising from COVID-19.

MRCS has also assisted in reducing social adverse effects of the pandemic by engaging various influential groups in the fight against the virus.

Among others she cited traditional leaders, church leaders and media in reaching to the population with the right messaging concerning the vaccines.

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A cross section of the workshop participants. Pics courtesy of Malawi Red cross society 

 “Of late we’ve been supporting the government in the campaign which is called finish the vial campaign where we’re trying to speed up the uptake of the vaccine before it expires. So we have supported the government in terms of rolling out activities such as giving out the right information on the same, trying to mobilize the communities using the van and also we’ve been supporting the HSA’s in order to be able to have outreach clinics to make sure that we reach out to many people.”

The charity organization uses volunteers in mobilizing people to receive vaccines and in promoting issues of hygiene and provision of sanitation facilities in schools and market places.

It has been getting support from various partners such as the International federation of the Red Cross, Unicef and GIZ and appealed for more support from other partners to enable them carry out their activities in reducing the impact of the global pandemic.

It has a K5.4 billion budget out of which K3.2 was already mobilised.