Tanzania has listed 550 coronavirus vaccination centers as it rolls out a mass vaccination campaign on August 3 with priority given to health workers, the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions, officials said Friday.
The East African country, one of the last to accept COVID-19 vaccines, launched the campaign on Wednesday with President Samia Suluhu Hassan publicly taking a shot.
Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health Abel Makubi said the government has started distributing 1 million doses of the Janssen vaccines produced by American pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson that was donated by the US after it verified the safety of the vaccines.
Tanzania announced 29 new virus deaths and 176 cases on July 23, bringing the number of infections to 858, said officials.
The first phase of the campaign, which aims to reach at least 60% of the country’s 58 million people, targets front-line health workers, people older than 50 and those with underlying health conditions.
“The government insists the vaccination exercise is voluntary. Because available doses are not enough, other groups will be vaccinated later,” said Makubi.
Tanzanians will be required to provide identification, including a driving license, passport, national identity card or voter identity card and fill out an indemnity form showing their readiness to take the vaccines.
“It is illegal for any public or private hospital to charge citizens who show up for getting a vaccine,” Makubi warned.