Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera and his deputy, Saulos Chilima, on Thursday led the country in getting the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to mark the official rollout of the vaccination campaign.
The Malawi leader got his jab at a televised ceremony at a COVID-19 field hospital in the country’s former capital city, Zomba, while Chilima got his jab at a field hospital in Mzuzu city in northern Malawi.
UN Resident Coordinator in Malawi, Maria Jose Torres Macho, also got the AstraZeneca jab at the facility followed by Speaker of Parliament, Catherine Gotani Hara, Malawi Defense Force and Malawi Police Service chiefs, representatives of religious leaders, traditional leaders, and some senior government officials.
“As a show of good faith, I have volunteered to be the first to be vaccinated while the Vice President will also get vaccinated in Mzuzu so that you see that the vaccine is safe,” Chakwera said.
Chakwera said 60,000 health workers across the country will get the vaccine as one of the priority groups, which also include frontline soldiers in the fight against the pandemic.
The president thanked the WHO for its technical assistance to Malawi to identify the AstraZeneca vaccine and development partners for helping the country with the vaccine’s deployment plan.
He also thanked the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and its partners for giving Malawi equitable access to 1.4 million doses of the vaccine up to May through the COVAX Facility.
The first batch of 360,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in the country on March 5 through the COVAX Facility.
Other than frontline health workers, the elderly and Malawians at risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the nature of their jobs will also be prioritized in getting the vaccine.
Since April 2020, Malawi has recorded over 32,000 COVID-19 cases with over 24,000 recoveries and over 1,000 deaths.