- vendors, taxi drivers jabbed as govt eyes herd immunity
THE government has extended its Covid-19 vaccination campaign to vendors and taxi drivers as part of its quest to achieve herd immunity in the population.
Although the mass vaccination programme was launched in March this year with the immunisation of essential workers, the campaign was slowed down by delays in procuring more vaccines to enable the rest of the eligible sections of the population to be jabbed.
But the programme has gathered pace in recent months after the government procured more vaccines and also received donations from international development partners such as the United States and Chinese governments as well as the local private sector.
Over the weekend, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro officiated at the launch of the campaign to vaccinate vendors and taxi drivers at the Maseru Market Street terminus in the capital.
He revealed that 350 000 people had been vaccinated to date, adding that the country still had a long way to go before achieving its objective of jabbing 1, 5 million eligible people.
“We still have a long way to go and we have been wondering what could be the cause of the slow progress when the vaccines have now become available, Dr Majoro said.
“It became clear that there was a problem with our approach of using the health facilities as vaccination points when most of you have to get to your work stations as early as 6am to work for a better life. This means that you could not put your work on hold to go and get vaccinated at the clinics.
“Hence on Wednesday (15 September), we decided that we must bring the vaccines to you.”
Dr Majoro said their aim was to expand the vaccination campaign to vendors, taxi drivers and the rest of the public in the other nine districts.
“There are approximately 80 000 vendors and taxi drivers across the country and we have enough vaccines to cover all of you.
“Our expectation is that by the end of October2021, we should have vaccinated all taxi drivers, vendors and the rest of the public (in the vending areas and taxi ranks).
“Let us all support the vaccination campaign to enable us to meet our target of achieving herd immunity before we can do away with the lockdowns.
“We are working hard to ensure that we revive our economy without fear of ever locking the country again,” Dr Majoro said.
Lesotho is currently in the third wave of Covid-19, with Dr Majoro revealing that the country is battling three highly contagious variants of the virus.
These are the South African variant, Delta variant and the United Kingdom mutation of the Lambda variant first identified in Peru in August 2020.
Of these, the Delta variant is the most virulent with reports saying it is responsible for 83 percent of Covid-19 cases in the US.
The US is the world leader in Covid-19 cases with 42 799 907 infections and 690 714 deaths having been recorded by yesterday.
India, the country where the Delta variant was first identified, is not far behind with 33 417 390 infections and 444 563 deaths by yesterday.
In his weekend address to the vendors and taxi drivers, Dr Majoro warned that they risked dying from the Delta variant if they were not vaccinated.
“When you are vaccinated, the infection will not be severe and the chances of Covid-19 related deaths are reduced,” Dr Majoro said.
The launch of the vaccination campaign was also attended by ministers, Semano Sekatle (Health), Lehlohonolo Moramotse (Local Government and Chieftaincy) and Machesetsa Mofomobe (Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing).
On his part, Mr Sekatle said the vendors did not have time to go to the health centres, hence the government’s decision to bring the vaccination programme to them.
He echoed Dr Majoro’s call for all vendors, taxi drivers and the rest of the public to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
He said once this had been achieved there would be no justification for continuing with the lockdowns which affected business activities and spawned poverty.
“We therefore appeal to you to get vaccinated because this vaccine is not deadly. It is our hope that when people have been vaccinated in large numbers, there will be no reason for restrictions and lockdowns,” Mr Sekatle said.