Dar es Salaam. Achieving the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s target of vaccinating 40 percent of the population by the end of the year is still a tall order for Tanzania which has now covered 2.11 percent only.
Tanzania, which has received nearly 4.4 million Covid-19 doses from Covax facility and other development partners over the period of four months since July 2021, has only been able to administer 1.2 million doses.
According to the manager in-charge of the National Vaccination Programme at the ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Florian Tinuga, this is only 2.11 percent over 57 million people in the country.
“We are continuing to push the national agenda for people to vaccinate because the science of vaccines and global evidence shows that the Covid-19 vaccines can protect against severe disease as well as limit the transmission of the virus,” he said.
Speaking yesterday during a briefing session involving editors and media owners, Dr Tinuga said Tanzania has three situations when it comes to Covid-19 patients; those who do not seek medical help, those who went to the hospital and those who only went when they reached a critical stage.
He said: “The majority (80 percent) of the people with Covid-19 do not seek medical help and some do not even know if they have the disease because they are not showing, only 15 percent reach to the health centres while 5 percent wait until they are critical,”
Dr Tinuga said this is why the government has been increasing efforts to influence people to vaccinate and especially those considered in vulnerable situations such as health workers, military, teachers and even media.
One of the challenges on the vaccination rollout in Tanzania include the spread out of incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable facts on Covid-19 vaccines, says an expert on Public Health from the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (Muhas), Prof Deodatus Kakoko.
Prof Kakoko said: “In the first few weeks, the roll out was slow because people were not informed and there was a lot of myths and wrong facts about the vaccines, but now many people are aware on its significance during this pandemic,”
For his part, Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF) chairman Deodatus Balile said media personnel have a key role in the vaccination campaign, saying it is in their power to educate and provide the public with correct info on how to protect themselves from Covid-19.
“When the first case was announced in Tanzania, the media played a good role in influencing people to wash hands and wear masks, so if we use the same efforts to influence vaccines we can succeed even more,” said Balile.
According to WHO, only nine African countries have met a target of vaccinating 10 percent of their populations against Covid-19 by the end of September, a statistic that illustrates how far the continent is lagging behind global vaccination rates.