Measures to increase vaccine uptake
21 August 2021 | Ministries
Ben Nangombe; Executive Director, MoHSS; “No client should be turned away…”
Via a statement issued, Nangombe said that Namibia received 75 000 doses of AstraZeneca (AZ) from the Netherlands on 8 August 2021.
“This limited number of doses was prioritized for the administration of outstanding second doses of AZ. However, since the arrival of these doses, many vaccination sites have been inundated with queries and demands from first timers who would like to get this vaccine.”
Nangombe said that while the ministry appreciates the increased demand for this vaccination, they remain mindful of the need for individuals who have already received the first dose of AZ to complete their vaccination schedule, and be fully vaccinated for enhanced protection.
He advised that districts should prioritize clients that come for the second dose of AZ.
“Other eligible clients should be encouraged to take Sinopharm instead, which is available in adequate quantities and equally effective. Furthermore, vaccinators should prioritise clients at risk of Covid-19 infection, severe diseases, hospitalization and death, such as persons with comorbidities, persons over 60, and persons with disabilities.”
Nangombe emphasised that doses of AZ remaining at the end of each day/session may not be wasted.
“These doses should rather be administered to first timers on the basis of availability to ensure that every single dose is used. No client may be turned away without being vaccinated.”
New AIDS treatment
The MoHSS also started rolling out a more effective medicine for suppressing the viral load in children living with HIV and AIDS, known as Paediatric Dolutegravir (pDTG) also called Dolutegravir 10mg (DTG 1 Omg) in July 2021.
By the end of June 2021, Namibia had 183 576 people enrolled for HIV and AIDS treatment. Of these, 724 are children below the age of four.
“Until recently, Dolutegravir was only used for the older population and was not available for young children as it did not come in smaller doses. The 10mg version is now available, which provides the right treatment for children between four weeks and five years old,” Nangombe said.
He added that with the introduction of pDTG, Namibia will transition from the Lopinavir granular formulation which is currently given to children, to PDTG which has proven to be more effective.
“The other benefits of pDTG are that it comes in tablet form, which is dissolved in measured water and is taken once a day as opposed to Lopinavir granules which is taken twice a day. The medicine also tastes better, which makes it easier to give to children and is easier for them to swallow.”
Nangombe stated that the ministry is busy with logistics to make sure the medicine is available at all health facilities across the country.
“Parents and caregivers are encouraged to enquire with healthcare workers at their nearest facility about this medicine.”
The roll-out of this medicine is part and parcel of ongoing efforts by the ministry to ensure that flagship programmes in public health care delivery continue to be strengthened despite Covid-19.