As Zambia draws nearer to starting administering the COVID-19 vaccine next month, divisions have emerged on whether people should take the vaccine or not.
While some have gladly expressed willingness to take vaccine once it is made available, others have expressed misgivings mainly due to myths or misconception being peddled on the vaccines.
The misgivings about the vaccine have been worsened by recent revelations where tests on condoms and other essential drugs distributed in Zambia’s health facilities last year were found not to be safe.
The government said recently that it will start administering the vaccine next month and will start with people at risk of contracting the virus such as front line workers, journalists, people with diseases such as BP, diabetes as well as the elderly.
The government is targeting to vaccinate 20 percent of the population in the first phase.
This comes in the wake of approval from the COVAX, a global initiative to ensure rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, to start administering the vaccine.
But former vice president Nevers Mumba said no vaccine should be administered on any Zambian until its efficacy and safety is guaranteed.
The former vice president, who is now the leader of the opposition Movement for Multiparty Democracy, said the government should not risk the lives of people over the vaccine which is still shrouded in mystery.
“Zambia must not inject any vaccine in any Zambian body before strenuous verification and validation is done to this vaccine. We must declare that the vaccine is unsafe until it is scientifically proved,” he said in a video posted on his Facebook page.
He said the vaccine should be tested by local scientists and doctors and not foreign scientists.
Some residents have since backed the former vice president and expressed concerns about taking the vaccine. Lailah Mwamba says she will not rush into taking the vaccine until she is convinced that it is safe and that it will not have any negative effects on her.
But Teddy Mulenga, a medical practitioner expressed concerns that the former vice-president is sending wrong signals to Zambians to reject the vaccine until thorough tests are done.
“We have plenty of conspiracy theories flying around and anything indirectly promoting this is rather very unfortunate,” he said in a statement.
He added that scientists have already looked at the available research and have advised that the vaccine should be administered.
He further said the issue of side-effects was not new as it is common in vaccines although considerations have to be weighed on the benefits and side effects.
President Edgar Lungu has since called for the gathering of enough information on the vaccines before it could be administered to people.
However, Health Minister Jonas Chanda said the issue of getting the virus will be tabled before parliament for a final decision.
“If cabinet says no, then there will be no vaccine. Cabinet will decide on whether we will have a vaccine or not,” he said during a press briefing.
He however said the acquisition of the vaccine will be done in a transparent manner and that nothing will be done without the knowledge of the public.
While acknowledging that most of the vaccines have been validated and were safe, Zambia, as a sovereign nation, will make its own decision on whether to go ahead and vaccinate its citizens.
He further expressed concern on the conspiracy theory on the vaccines but assured people not to fear because the government has the interest of the people at heart. Enditem