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GIVE US ‘AUNTIE ZANELE’

By ALEC LUSHABA Editor | 2021-04-06

 THE overwhelming turnout at vaccination centres by the elderly has made Health Minister Lizzie Nkosi anxious, wishing she had enough quantities to inoculate them and those with comorbidities. Government received 32 000 doses of AstraZaneca donated by the Indian Government (20 000 doses) and COVAX (12 000) which it is currently rolling out to health care workers, the elderly who are above the age of 60 and those with comorbidities. By last count on Saturday, about 18 131 Emaswati had been vaccinated and the exercise continued yesterday in Siphofaneni, Nkwene and Nhlambeni constituencies. This now means government is left with 13 869 doses to administer to the above group. Health Minister Nkosi said the overwhelming response from the elderly is an indication that the exercise is going very well. “In fact, in the few places I have visited, the elderly want more of the vaccine, which they call Auntie Zanele (AstraZeneca). Turnout To us this says people have spoken by their large turnout to show that they need the vaccine, much against what was being said in some quarters,” she said. Nkosi said she wished she had more of the doses to inoculate a majority of the elderly and those with comorbidities ahead of what is predicated to be the third wave. The minister said they were expecting to receive the next doses in the second quarter, which is between now and June. Dates “At the moment we don’t have the specific dates as to when we will receive delivery,” she said. Meanwhile, Health PS Dr. Simon Zwane has urged community structures to help them during this exercise. “The reality on the ground is that the numbers we are dealing with are huge and we need assistance from traditional structures, including the various tinkhundla to help control the masses better. It is true that whilst we are undertaking the vaccination exercise we don’t want to place more lives in danger of contracting the virus or our exercise to be considered a super spreader event. Struggle “Alone we struggle to bring about order as everyone wants the doses, hence our appeal for support,” he said. Dr. Zwane said the first phase of the rollout has been a learning curve and they will do a post-mortem once completed to plan for the next phase. He said other than the priority list, politicians and other prominent figures who were inoculated it was for purposes of promoting the exercise. “We needed those in leadership positions to be also seen to support the exercise to demonstrate that it was not just meant for the priority groups. We are all part of it, it is just that we need to prioritise those most at risk,” Dr Zwane said. A summary report of the exercise which started on March 19 as of this past Saturday shows that a total of 18 131 people have been vaccinated, with Manzini region being the highest with 5 953 and followed by Hhohho with 5 300. The Shiselweni region had 3 866 and Lubombo with 3 012 vaccinations. The report further reveals that of those with comorbidities about 6 396 had hypertension whilst those with HIV and diabetes were 2 978 and 2 356, respectively. About 924 of the vaccinated had asthma and amongst the top four ailments. Of the registered 8 009 heath care workers, 5 839 had so far been vaccinated.

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