Malawi, like many other African countries, has failed to vaccinate at least 10 percent of its population against Covid-19 in order to reach the herd immunity.
Despite scientific evidence laying bare the advantages of Covid-19 vaccine, many Malawians continue to shun the vaccine for various reasons. Early this year, Malawi was hit hard with Covid-19 and one would think that was enough reason to convince people to get vaccinated.
The Covid-19 vaccine has proved to be effective and evidence from several health experts show that within the period that Covid-19 hit Malawi hard, many of those who were hospitalised were the unvaccinated.
Malawi being a country that is quite superstitious, many have come up with their own conspiracy theories against the vaccine and are out there recruiting and convincing others to shun the vaccine. One disturbing thing is that as a government, I feel it is not doing enough to counter such conspiracies. When it comes to urging Malawians to get vaccinated, the messaging has been sloppy and not quite aggressive as it ought to be bearing in mind the importance of such an exercise.
It is important that the government makes it quite clear, without forcing people, why as a large population needs to be vaccinated. Many European countries have opened up and life is slowly getting back to normal because a large percentage of their population is vaccinated. However, in this part of the world with already struggling economies, it will take time for life to get some normalcy if people continue to shun the vaccine.
The vaccine will keep communities safe and help stabilise the economy. Currently, many African countries, including Malawi are still on the red list, which means the movement of Malawians is being restricted. This, consequently, also restricts which country countries Malawians can transact business with.
As we approach the festive season, my fear is many people will put their guard down as they take part in many super-spreader events, the consequences of which will be felt months later. Malawi can avoid what the country went through a few ago if a large number of the population is vaccinated.
Government and all other stakeholders in the fight against Covid-19 need to be proactive in the awareness campaign, especially for the rural masses. Let us not see a repeat of what happened early this year where the country had to dispose of the vaccine amidst rising cases of Covid-19 cases.