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POLITICIANS NO LONGER FIRST VACCINE RECIPIENTS

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MBABANE – Politicians will no longer form part of the first group of people to benefit from the COVID-19 vaccine as government has removed them from the priority list.

Following the Eswatini COVID-19 Vaccine Update issued on January 20, 2021, that Cabinet and parliamentarians will be the first to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in April this year, government has since eliminated politicians from the first phase of the vaccination process.

The update highlighted that the politicians, together with frontline workers, formed three per cent of the population that would get the vaccine during the first phase. 

It was further mentioned that they (politicians) would be joined by 17 per cent of the population comprising the elderly and some people living with comorbidities.

Director of Health Services Dr Vusi Magagula later in the week clarified that this was a proposal that was yet to be endorsed by Cabinet.

As such, it would seem Cabinet was not entirely convinced that politicians should form part of the priority list.

Healthcare 

During a media COVID-19 vaccine update hosted by Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi yesterday at Cabinet, she revealed that only healthcare workers would be vaccinated in the first phase.

“The Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini has been working tirelessly to access COVID-19 vaccines for all emaSwati. We believe that the vaccination of the population must be handled with urgency and we have been utilising all avenues available to us to expedite the availability of vaccines for all as soon as practically possible.

“The COVID-19 vaccine must be made available to all emaSwati, starting with frontline health care workers and the most vulnerable to ensure that there is protection for them first as they are the most exposed to SARS-CoV-2 virus infection,” said Nkosi. 

According to Nkosi, Phase One, which will comprise three per cent of the population, will be rolled out to healthcare providers in the public and private sectors. She said the remaining numbers would be moved to the Phase II group.

The minister further highlighted that Phase II, which will cover 17 per cent of the population would comprise the elderly from 60 years and above and people living with comorbidities, which makes them more vulnerable to virus.  

“Phase III which is 60 per cent of the population, will be given to essential workers outside the health sector,” said Nkosi.

She elaborated that these would include essential workers outside the health sector such as security forces, fire department workers, teachers, immigration officers, as well as customs. She added that communities that could not practise social distancing and travellers would be added to that catergory.

Reacting to the news of the COVID-19 vaccine, Swaziland National Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU) President Bheki Mamba said this did not mean that the Health Ministry prioritised healthcare workers.

“This is a global discussion and resolution. The WHO resolved that this is a pandemic that has affected the entire nation and the pandemic should be eliminated,” Mamba said.

He went on to say one way to end the pandemic was for all countries to vaccinate its people. The president stated that the organisation also committed to securing vaccines, of which 20 per cent would be given to countries.

“The vaccine which will be received by healthcare workers is the donation from  WHO,” Mamba said.

He added that the conditions to the donations were that the first to be vaccinated should be healthcare workers, since they were part of the building blocks of a strong healthcare system. 

However, Mamba said they were worried about the country not saying anything about securing vaccines for the entire populace. 



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