HEALTH workers will be prioritised when Lesotho receives its consignment of the Covid-19 vaccine in April this year Ministry of Health expanded programme on immunisation (EPI) nurse, ‘Mamonaheng Posholi has said.
Ms Posholi said this in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week.
Lesotho is one of the 92 countries that are set to receive free vaccines from the COVAX facility (a fully subsidised initiative by the World Health Organisation [WHO] to enable poor countries to get free vaccines) in April.
COVAX has committed to donating vaccines to cover only 20 percent of the populations of each of the 92 countries in the facility. These countries, including Lesotho, will hence have to purchase extra vaccines to cover the remainder of their populations.
The COVAX donation will cover 20 percent of the population, approximately 430 000 people and Ms Posholi said health workers will be on top of the list of recipients since they are on the frontline in the fight against Covid-19 where the risk of contracting the disease is higher.
“At the top of the list of the 430 000 people who are going to get vaccinated are health workers who constitute less than three percent of the country’s entire 2, 1 million people,” Ms Posholi said.
“By health workers, we mean every person who works in the health sector including all the clinical and support staff as well as village health workers.”
She said the vaccine would be administered voluntarily and they have already started sensitising the public about the vaccination programme to diffuse myths that have been circulating about the vaccines.
“We want to enable people to make informed decisions as far as the vaccination is concerned. This means that no one will be forced get the vaccine because everyone has a right to refuse treatment.
“However, we do not want people to refuse the vaccination, therefore we started the sensitisation programme last month but we still have a long way to go. We are trying to avoid a situation where some will turn down the vaccine.”
After the vaccination of health workers, the Ministry of Health will then turn to the other 17 percent which consists of teachers, factory workers and the elderly among others.
“We will prioritise the most vulnerable age groups where the mortality rate is high like the elderly. The death rate is high among the elderly and while the infection rate is also high among the youths, the recovery rate is higher,” Ms Posholi said.
Young people who will be prioritised would have shown that they have underlying conditions which make them susceptible to contracting Covid-19.
She also said the vaccine will only be administered to people who are 16 years and older.
In addition to the COVAX vaccines, the government has also set up M240 million to procure Covid-19 vaccines, according to Dr Majoro.
Dr Majoro last month said the procurement of the vaccines as well as the free vaccines would enable the government to achieve its target of vaccinating at least 1, 5 million out of the country’s 2, 1 million population Basotho by the end of the year.