Friday 2022-08-12




By NONDUDUZO KUNENE | 2021-11-25

The ministry of health is faced with the reality that it will have to destroy some of the COVID-19 vaccines, due to in part, vaccine hesitancy by the public.

Over 10 000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine stand to be destroyed as of next week because these will have reached their expiry date as of Wednesday, December 2 and therefore no longer viable.

This is according to data from the ministry of health that was presented by Surveillance Officer Tholokwakhe Simelane during a meeting with editors and journalists yesterday. The meeting was held to discuss COVID-19 hesitancy in Eswatini.

The country this year received 441 420 doses of COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX initiative and 20 000 doses from the Government of India. In total the country received 461 240 doses of vaccine, 302 400 of which were Johnson and Johnson (JJ) vaccine, 100 620 Pfizer doses and 58 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

At the rate that people are responding to getting the jab, there is a very high possibility that almost half of the doses that were received by the country might not be utilised until they reach their expiry date. The Pfizer jab is the first of these to reach expiry date next week Wednesday and more are expected to expire from Thursday until December 11, 2021 where 10 482 doses will have to be thrown away if not utilised by then.

This data was prepared on November 21, 2021. What is more challenging for government is that another 87 750 doses at the central medical stores (CMS) will reach their expiry date on January 31, 2022. By the end of January next year, if the uptake of the vaccine does not pick up approximately 98 232 doses of Pfizer vaccine will expire.

The Pfizer vaccine in the country is open to every age group but children between 12 to 17 years are given priority. The vaccine requires two doses for one to be fully vaccinated. The second dose is administered four weeks after the first dose. The JJ and Pfizer vaccines were gifts from the United States of America through the vaccine sharing and COVAX.

This vaccine requires only one dose for a person to be fully vaccinated. By January 18 next year the country might discard 92 700 of the JJ vaccine doses as they would have reached their expiry date. By March next year all COVID-19 vaccines that have been received in the country would have expired. From February 18, 12 840 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine will be expiring. This vaccine requires candidates to receive two doses which are administered between 12 weeks or up to six months.

However, the country set the time frame between the first and the second dose to 10 weeks. By the end of March next year if the uptake of the vaccine still continues at a snail pace the county might be forced to throw away 102 120 doses of the vaccine. This means out of the 461 240 doses of the vaccine doses that were received by the country 206 480 doses might go to waste.

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