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IN FOR A SHOT: The elderly pictured at EBAT

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Vaccine headache

Only 8 512 vaccinated in Greater Francistown
Three die from complications

The rollout of the Sinovac vaccine in Greater Francistown has come to an end after covering only a fraction of the over 65 age bracket.

Botswana’s adult population is estimated at 1.6 million.

By the time you read this story, most of the vaccination centers in the Greater Francistown would have run out of the vaccine whose rollout began on 11th May.

Botswana received 200 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccines from China in late April. This was in addition to the 60 000 doses of Covishield and 24 000 doses of AstraZeneca received from India and South Korea respectively.

According to the District Health Management Team (DHMT) Coordinator, Dr. Ivan Kgetse, his district was allocated 10 870 doses of the Chinese vaccine.

DHMT COORDINATOR: Dr. Ivan Kgetsi

“By tomorrow (Thursday) the vaccine would have finished and we expect to have vaccinated at least 5 435 elders over the age of 65,” he said.

Explaining this, Dr. Kgetse said it was important to have used half of the allocated vaccine to ensure the availability of the second dosage in four weeks.

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“Unlike Covax whose second dose can be taken in three months, Sinovac’s second dose has to come in four weeks, so we had to be careful that we’ll be able to provide the second dose to the vaccinated elderly,” Dr. Kgetse said.

The newly appointed Coordinator, on transfer from Tutume, told The Voice that for the second rollout they had to do things differently.

“We increased vaccination centers. We had to ensure that everyone from all the villages had access to the vaccine,” he said.

He said despite the interest from the elderly who’ve shown eagerness to take the vaccine, there were not enough doses to vaccinate everyone.

“We have a large population of the over 65 in this district and the doses were not enough to cover the health workers who should have been included,” he said.

LEADING BY EXAMPLE: Kgosi Kopano Maruping of Tati Siding

Dr. Kgetse said as of the 17th May they had vaccinated 3 837 of which 3 705 were citizens and 132 expatriates.

He further revealed that in the first rollout of Phase one back in March, only 3 077 people were vaccinated in Greater Francistown.

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These people are scheduled to come for their second dose of AstraZeneca on 20th June.

“As soon as we get more doses we’ll continue with the rollout but it is important that at all times we’ve enough for the second dose,” he said, further stating that they had fatalities that are being investigated.

“It can never be conclusive that the vaccine was the cause of death. Sometimes you’ll find that people had underlying conditions that they were not aware of,” he said

Kgetse further warned against dose cheating which he said could cause complications.

He said it would be unwise for those go received the AstraZeneca shot to queue up for Sinovac.

“These vaccines are still being studied, so mixing them is akin to contaminating research. Besides that, they are made from different viruses that can team up in the body and become something else. This drug interaction may exaggerate adverse effects,” warned Dr. Kgetse.

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The Voice also interviewed the General Director of EBAT Guest Lodge, Ogomoditse Maruapula, who has been administering the vaccine since 11th May.

Maruapula said after two weeks of vaccinations championed by Kgosi Kopano Maruping of Tati Siding, they’ve administered a total of 447 doses and will be waiting for more to continue with the rollout.

“We started last year by offering our lodges in the Greater Francistown area to be used as quarantine facilities and now have extended the offer for use as vaccination centers,” said Maruapula.

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