‘MAKERESEMESE LETUKA and
MASERU- King Letsie joined healthcare workers to receive the first of Lesotho’s COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday. The King was vaccinated on the right arm, while his wife, Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso and their daughter, Princess Senate were both vaccinated in their left arms.
Healthcare workers are the first in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, with the Ministry of Health administering the AstraZeneca vaccines to healthcare workers at the Scott Hospital in Morija, in the Matsieng constituency. The vaccines were received on March 4.
Lesotho received 36 000 as part of an initial tranche of deliveries of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine licensed to the Serum Institute of India, which represents part of the first wave of COVID-19 vaccines headed to several low and middle-income countries.
Speaking at the event health minister, Semano Sekatle, advised the nation against rife unfounded theories and misconceptions on social media about the vaccine, and to accept it to prevent unnecessary deaths.
“All the districts were fully prepared to receive the vaccine now that it has been distributed to several health facilities vaccination will begin as soon as possible,” he continued.
“I am very happy and thankful for this; my hope has been regained for our nation. I just wish we can receive this vaccine in large numbers so that it can be able to reach all Basotho…especially our health care workers so that the rate of infection can be reduced.
The health minister further said government will order and purchase very little of the Pfizer vaccine “because it requires very cold temperatures and more advanced refrigerators, currently the country does not have that kind equipment.”
“They little amount purchased can only be kept in the normal refrigerators for 30 days, which will require health workers to have used it within the 30 days.”
Sekatle urged Basotho to test for COVID-19 and follow set safety measures, rules and regulations. The Principal Chief of Matsieng Seeiso Bereng Seeiso said: “But we still need to be vigilant and continue to observe all the necessary COVID-19 protocols, this is not a cure it is just a preventative measure so that we can continue with our normal social and economic activities again.”
On behalf of the health workers who also got vaccinated ‘Mantsoaki Sekhetsa said she felts relieved because she has seen a lot of people die in her presence because of the virus, she added “and if the vaccine can prevent a person from being seriously ill to an extend of being admitted at the hospital or worse even dead then it works.”
Sekhetsa continued: “Now that we are vaccinated we do not need to relax, we still need to take care of our health and advise our patients of the importance of being vaccinated.”
In a separate interview, community health worker, ‘Mampho Matšela commended the King for having been the first to receive the vaccine, “leading by example.”
She said their work as health workers is going to be a lot easier since the community will now appreciate the need to be vaccinated since the King and his family has been vaccinated publicly.
Chairperson of the parliamentary Social Cluster, Fako Moshoeshoe, pointed out in his remarks that he felt honoured to be among the selected leaders to be vaccinated, and he could guarantee concerned members of the public that the vaccine is safe because he has witnessed it.
“Let us leave out the myths from social media, this is an advantage because there will no more be long queues of infected people in our hospital, fully occupied beds and multiple deaths because of this vaccine,” he said.
The second batch of the AstraZeneca vaccines is expected to arrive in the country anytime this month, which will cover 20 percent of the population, more vaccines to cover another 40 percent of the population is also expected from the African Union.
In her introductory remarks a nurse at Scott Hospital ‘Mannete Rapholo, revealed that three months ago at the beginning of a rapid surge in infection in the country some of the hospital’s workers were forced to stay at home to reduce the rate of the infection as many Basotho succumbed to the deadly virus.
Rapholo said the vaccine is going to reduce the rate of infection in the body of each person who is going to be vaccinated twice. She explained that after the first injection one will be vaccinated after 12 weeks.
“Immediately after being vaccinated on the arm of your choice pain will be felt for a short while and later feel tired, each and every person is being vaccinated, the second time is after 12 weeks.
After a person has been vaccinated they wait for 15 minutes to see if there are any sides effects which were not anticipated, but if there are none visible that does not mean they are immune, they should still adhere to the COVID-19 regulations.”