Zambia to receive its first AstraZeneca vaccines next week

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Multiple countries in Europe have suspended the use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine. /Joel Saget/AFP
AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. /Joel Saget/AFP

The first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Zambia next week, the country’s Ministry of Health said Friday.

The first consignment under the COVAX Facility consisting of 228,000 doses of AstraZeneca manufactured in India will arrive Monday, April 12.

“This is only one of the COVID-19 vaccines in the basket as approved by Cabinet and this will be done in a cautious and phased-up manner and on a pilot and voluntary basis,” Health Minister Jonas Chanda said in a ministerial statement delivered in parliament.

He said more consignments were expected to follow in due course, adding that administration will be in accordance with the prioritization criteria to all eligible people above the age of 18 years.

The government was committed to protecting the health of people, said the official, noting that it was unfortunate that some people were forced to go out of the country to access the vaccine because it was not available locally.

The country has settled for the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines to be administered in the first phase of the program.

The first category to be considered will be frontline health workers, followed by other frontline workers performing core functions of the society, including the police, the security forces, teachers, traditional leaders, the clergy, immigration officers.

This will be followed by those over the age of 65 years and people with underlying conditions, those living in congregate settings and the rest of the population will also be vaccinated, including traders, bus and truck drivers. Altogether 8.3 million people are targeted to be vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the country recorded 191 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours out of 6,435 tests done, bringing the cumulative cases to 89,783.

A total of 113 patients were discharged during the same period, bringing the total recoveries to 85,559 while one person died bringing the total deaths to 1,226.

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