- Only 39 907 people had taken booster shots by 1st February
- Botswana has met WHO target of 10% vaccinated by last September
- President Masisi has warned against complacency
The government is concerned that the uptake of COVID-19 booster shots has been slow since the programme began early in January, The Botswana Gazette has established.
The spokesman of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Nyanga, says there is concern that some people who are due for booster shots have not turned up to take them.
Although he blamed lack of adequate information, Nyanga told The Botswana Gazette in an interview that he cannot say why this is so because no study has been conducted to ascertain the cause.
He stated that as at 1st of February this year, a total of 39 907 people had taken their booster shots in Botswana. “As at 01 February 2022, a total of 1 342 183 people had taken their first dose of COVID-19 vaccination, including Johnson and Johnson whose single dose is considered as full vaccination,” he said.
“By the same date, 1 118 218 people had taken their second dose (inclusive of Johnson and Johnson) and were therefore, considered fully vaccinated.”
He noted that the Ministry has therefore intensified its public education campaign to encourage people to take booster shots, given the increased advantage against COVID-19 derived from doing so.
Nyanga said they have not marked any difference between urban and rural areas in the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, including booster shots.
“There is generally a low uptake but people should know that the booster shot helps regain immunity that they may have lost over time, which makes them better-placed to reduce the severity of COVID-19 if infected,” said Nyanga.
Botswana’s reported COVID-19 cases have declined despite detection of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Botswana and South Africa were the first two countries in the world to report cases of Omicron.
Growing calls to encourage people to take booster shots are being made when COVID-19 cases are on a decline in the country, showing a determination to fight the disease to the end.
The scientific advisor to the COVID-19 Task Force, Mogomotsi Matshaba, says Botswana’s overall figures remain low. “The new number of active cases has decreased to 431, a positive development that we encourage all of you to continue to work together so that it remains low,” Matshaba said.
“The whole country remains green in terms of COVID-19 zones, meaning the disease activity is relatively low, but it doesn’t mean there is no disease.”
He added that the low number of cases despite the presence of a highly transmissible variant could be due to various factors but did not elaborate.
Botswana is one of few African countries to achieve the World Health Organisation vaccination target of inoculating 10 percent of its population by the end of September. President Mokgweetsi Masisi, in an address to the nation, has said despite the emergence of Omicron, the situation remains stable. “To-date, all our key indicators remain stable,” Masisi said.
“This is comforting, although it still does not warrant any complacency on our part in terms of behaviour and other attitudinal patterns towards this dreadful disease. We are actively monitoring the evolving situation in view of the new variant of concern.”