Lesotho exceeds WHO’s Covid-19 vaccination target

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Limpho Sello

LESOTHO has so far vaccinated 332 950 people against the Covid-19 virus, a figure which translates to about 15 percent of the country’s 2, 1 million population.

This according to World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics as at 15 September 2021.

Lesotho’s vaccination statistics are well above the WHO’s target for countries to have jabbed at least 10 percent of their people by the end of September 2021.

This places the country on eighth position in the rankings of African countries who have vaccinated at least 10 percent of their people.

Seychelles is the top ranked nation after jabbing 72 percent of its people. Mauritius (55 percent), Morocco (44 percent), Tunisia (21 percent), The Comoros (18 percent), Cape Verde (18 percent) and eSwatini (16 percent) are the only African countries to have done better than Lesotho.

Botswana and Zimbabwe (both at 13 percent) complete the top 10 while, South Africa (12 percent), Mauritania (12 percent) and Equatorial Guinea (11 percent) also exceeded targets.

Nevertheless, the only drawback is that the 332 950 figure is less than half of those who could have been jabbed as the country has to date received 682 400 vaccines.

Various factors particularly misinformation campaigns discouraging people from getting jabbed, have been blamed for the reluctance by many people to vaccinate.

However, National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) deputy CEO Thabo Ntoi, hailed the 15 percent milestone as a “great achievement” especially as numerous challenges had threatened to derail the vaccination programme.

“The WHO had set the September target to have vaccinated 10 percent of our population and we have exceeded that target even before the end of September,” Mr Ntoi said.

“This is an achievement. If we are already at 15 percent, we might even vaccinate 20 percent of the population or double that number by end of September.”

He said the achievement was all the more impressive because they had faced several challenges including false claims that the vaccines would cause several deaths.

“Our biggest challenge was the spread of false information that the vaccines are deadly. These claims spread after we had begun the second phase of vaccination (in July 2021). The claims instilled fear in many people who then refused to be vaccinated.

“There was also talk that the vaccines were satanic and this made many people to shun the vaccines. To have gotten this far under such challenges is therefore a huge milestone,” Mr Ntoi added.

He said they had now accelerated the mass vaccination programme with the aim of jabbing the 1, 5 million people who are eligible for the vaccines by the end of the year.

“We have taken the vaccines to the people. We have taken them to the market stalls and churches because that is where people gather in large numbers.

“We have also discussed with community leaders on the scheduled vaccination dates so that they can inform their people of such dates,” he said.

This article was possible due to the support of the German federal foreign office and the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (IFA) Zivik funding programme. The views presented in this article do not represent the views of the German federal foreign office nor the IFA.

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