Tanzania will start a Covid vaccination campaign on Wednesday.
Tanzania’s health ministry announced on Wednesday that a widespread vaccination campaign will begin on Wednesday, reversing the policy of the country’s late Covid-skeptic leader.
Former President John Magufuli was one of a small group of world leaders who dismissed the new coronavirus, refusing to use masks or vaccines and instead relying on the healing power of prayer to keep the disease at bay.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who succeeded him, said the country is currently fighting a third wave of Covid infections and has advised Tanzanians to follow health recommendations to prevent the virus from spreading.
Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima said in a statement late Monday that Hassan will be getting vaccinated when she launches the inoculation campaign in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s financial center.
The single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccination will be used to kick off the initiative.
Covax, a global program to ensure that lower-income countries obtain vaccines, delivered just over one million doses to the East African country over the weekend.
“The start of the vaccine campaign is historic for our country in the fight against the coronavirus,” Gwajima added, referring to Magufuli’s promotion of a vegetable smoothie and other ostensibly natural therapies to ward off Covid.
“Vaccine administration is one of the most trusted measures in the world in the fight against viral infections, including Covid-19,” she continued, urging other government officials to support the initiative.
Anti-vaccination attitude has spread across Africa, fueled by conspiracy theories and mistrust. As a result, vaccine adoption has been limited.
Tanzanian archbishop and MP Josephat Gwajima recently came under criticism for urging his congregation not to get vaccinated, claiming that there was insufficient data to establish that vaccines do not cause future health problems.
Tanzania, with a population of 58 million people, is one of three African countries that has yet to start immunizing its citizenry, along with Eritrea and Burundi.
In April 2020, the government ceased distributing Covid-19 data, citing Magufuli’s claim that the figures were scaring people and that vaccines were “hazardous.”
Hassan, on the other hand, formed an expert group after Magufuli’s death in March to advise her government on how to best deal with the pandemic.
On July 25, the Ministry of Health released new health standards, including the need that face masks be worn on public transportation.
However, compliance has been low, particularly in overcrowded buses.
The number of Covid cases has risen to 858 since the third wave began, according to Gwajima, the health minister.
She also said that 29 individuals had perished but had not been found. Brief News from Washington Newsday.