- MoH has not devised any punitive measures against anti-vaxxers
- Resorts to aggressive public education to vaccinate
The Government of Botswana cannot take any action against people opposed to vaccinating against COVID-19 because it has not devised any measures for doing so, The Botswana Gazette has established.
Instead the government will pursue an aggressive public education campaign on the benefits of vaccination to persuade people to take COVID vaccines and is already doing so.
According to the Chief Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoH), Dr Christopher Nyanga, there are people who have been unwilling to take COVID vaccines since the programme began last year. Nyanga said religious grounds, skepticism about vaccine safety and undisclosed personal reasons are the three main categories of the anti-vaxxers in Botswana.
“Since the vaccination programme started in March 2021, there are a few people who were not willing to get vaccinated,” he said in response to Gazette enquiries this week. “The importance of COVID-19 vaccination remains the approach (and it) has so far yielded some results.”
He noted that so far more than 60% of the population has received at least the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines. “The ministry regards this as a commendable effort and continues to encourage all those who are unvaccinated to turn up for vaccination,” Dr Nyanga said.
This publication is informed that the BaZezuru tribe is among those unwilling to be vaccinated on religious grounds. The leader of BaZeZuru in Mandunyane, Jacob Hamadziripi, told The Botswana Gazette when the vaccine programme began last year: “We do not believe in any vaccination or that our bodies could rely on them. That is why even our children never take the vaccines that are normally given to newly-born babies. In our religion, seeking medical attention is a last resort.”