Accessibility links

Breaking News

Malawians Line Up for COVID Shots After Expired Doses Were Burned

FILE - People wait to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at Ndirande Health Centre in Blantyre, Malawi, March 29, 2021.
FILE - People wait to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at Ndirande Health Centre in Blantyre, Malawi, March 29, 2021.

Malawians have again begun to line up to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Malawi ran out of doses in June amid a rise in COVID-19 infections and just weeks after the government burned 20,000 unused doses that expired because of vaccine hesitancy.

Malawi’s government resumed its vaccination program Monday after the arrival of 192,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Since then, vaccination centers have seen long lines of people, unlike the past, when some centers would only vaccinate two people per day.

Liznet Chilungo was among thousands who lined up for vaccinations Tuesday at the Youth Centre in Blantyre.

She said she “decided to get vaccinated this time because the COVID-19 infection is now becoming very scary and many [more] people are dying than before.”

She said she originally was hesitant because she doubted the efficacy and safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to myths and misinformation.

George Jobe, executive director for the Malawi Healthy Equity Network, said the huge turnout confirms the fear and panic people have about rising COVID-19 cases and other factors.

“The first factor could be that those who received the first jab and second jab are still in good health including the state president and the vice president contrary to myths and misinformation that were there. That should have affected the mindset of people over the COVID-19 vaccine,” Jobe said.

Also, preliminary results of a survey by the Ministry of Health show that over 80% of COVID-19 patients who are admitted to public hospitals had not been vaccinated.

However, Malawi is far from inoculating the 11 million people needed to reach herd immunity.

Records from the Public Health Institute of Malawi show that just 43,165 people have received two doses of a vaccine. Another 385,000 have received just the first shot.

Charles Mwansambo, secretary for the Ministry of Health, said people most vulnerable to the coronavirus should get vaccinated first.

“Because we will be getting enough vaccine for everybody, so I would recommend that let’s give a chance to health workers, let’s give a chance to those over age of 60. Let’s also give a chance to those with conditions like high blood pressure, sugar (diabetes). And the rest of us we can wait,” Mwansambo said.

The Ministry of Health announced last week that in addition to 192,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which arrived Saturday, Malawi expects to receive 119,000 more doses of the same vaccine before the end of the month.

The country is also expected to receive donations of 300,000 Pfizer vaccine doses and 300,000 Johnson & Johnson doses in early August.