While the country is still waiting for the arrival of the first batch of Covid-19 vaccine, Namibians abroad have shared their experience of receiving the first jab.
Dr Ondavulitha Nuunyango, a specialty registrar at Mid Cheshire Hospital Trust in the United Kingdom, said apart from a sore arm and one day of feeling a little under the weather, she has been doing well after receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on 6 January.
The 34-year-old, who has been living and working in the UK for the past three years, is due for her second dose on 24 February.
“I was quite fortunate to not have contracted the virus in the first wave and I believe it is because I adhered to wearing the face mask, washing and sanitising my hands as well as maintaining social distancing as much as possible,” she told New Era this week.
“I received my vaccine because I am an essential worker. I am often exposed to patients who have Covid-19 and that puts me at risk of contracting it.”
Nuunyango was also quick to debunk the myths surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine.
“The pandemic has shown us the power and impact that social media can have on individuals. The culture of mistrust and suspicion makes dealing with the pandemic even more challenging,” she said.
“The people will be less likely to get immunised or adhere to the guidelines set up by the health ministry to curb this virus. One way to address this is to avail platforms where people can access the right information and seek answers through telephonic consultations.”
She also clarified that a Covid-19 vaccine was not a cure-all solution that would provide 100% protection against the virus, but rather to help build immunity.
Nuunyango added that critical care units, as well as general wards, in the UK were overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients. Patients are having to wait longer in ambulances because there is nowhere to place them in hospitals.
“We are having to redeploy staff members to areas most in need and many buildings are repurposed to cater for the ever-growing number of Covid-19 patients. A lot of healthcare workers are having to take off days because they are either infected by the virus, suffering from exhaustion or mentally affected as a result, which causes a shortage of workers in the hospital. The influx of patients with the virus had also impacted the delivery of other healthcare services, as we have had to temporarily close down some clinics,” she added.
Another Namibian Lameck Mbangula Amugongo, who also received the jab, said he was playing his part by protecting himself from contracting the virus.
“I received my first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on 15 January 2021. I will receive the second dose within two months. The Covid-19 vaccine is administered like the normal flu vaccine. Hence, I was not afraid to receive the vaccine,” said the 28-year-old student, who is based in Manchester.
“Additionally, I have been following the vaccine development with a keen interest and have read published results from the various vaccine trials. I am confident that the vaccine is safe, and this is why I did not have any reservations about taking the vaccine. Thus far I have not experienced any reactions.”
Amugongo believes vaccines are thoroughly tested before they are used on people. “Yes, nothing works 100%, however, like other medications and vaccines we have taken in the past, the Covid-19 vaccine is safe. I urge all those who are still sceptical about the vaccine to read about the results from clinical trials and recent studies on the vaccine to reassure themselves,” urged Amugongo.
Earlier this month, health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula announced the country has secured a Covid-19 vaccine for health workers and the vulnerable, which is due to arrive end of January or early February.
Shangula said the rolling out of the small-scale “first wave” of deliveries forms part of progress made in preparation to acquire suitable Covid-19 vaccines.
According to Shangula, the national vaccine task force was at work to put mechanisms and logistics in place to roll out the vaccine.
Shangula explained that the government will prioritise frontline healthcare workers, the vulnerable and severe Covid-19 patients once the vaccine becomes available.
The country has made a further financial commitment through the Covax facility to settle the remaining balance of approximately N$137 million for the Covid-19 vaccine.
Last year, the country paid over N$29 million to acquire vaccine doses enough for about 20% of the population, or 508 200 people.