The Ministry of Health has added persons aged 58 years and above as a “priority target group” in the ongoing Phase I vaccine roll-out in the country.
In a press statement released on Thursday, Dr Willis Akhwale, Chairman of the COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Task-force said that the decision was made following a surge in coronavirus infections.
“According to our data, these are the most these are at most risk of severe disease and account for 60% of our recorded deaths. This group of persons will now be a priority target group under the ongoing Phase I vaccination exercise,” Dr Akhwale said.
He urged all leaders in the political, religious and community levels to encourage their followers to take up the jab, by participating in the same.
“The Minitsry of Health calls upon all political, religious and community leaders to take the vaccine so as to boost confidence in the overall vaccination process among vaccination target groups,” he said.
Since the roll out of the Phase I of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine that began on March 8, 2021, the Ministry of Health had listed front-line workers as the priority groups in the exercise targeting 1.25 million people.
“The prioritised groups included; health workers, security personnel, teachers, workers in institutions of learning and the clergy,” Dr Akhwale stated.
However, since the surge in infections due to the third wave of the pandemic, the Ministry noted increased record of older people being hospitalised and dying, hence the decision to include them as a target group.
Concerns have been raised by the Ministry over the rise in COVID-19 positivity rate standing at 22.1%, which is five times higher than the WHO threshold of five percent.