By Michael Sikapundwa
President Samia Suluhu Hassan sought to trash some negative sentiments against Covid-19 vaccines yesterday when she toldTanzanians that being a mother and a grandmother, there was no way that she could put her own life at risk.
Speaking shortly before she received her first jab of the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine to officially launch the nationwide vaccination
exercise, President Hassan said she was a mother of four a grandmother, wife above all else also President and Commander in Chief snd there was no way that she could put lives of Tanzanians at risk.
The start of vaccination comes four days after Tanzania received its 1,058,400 doses of the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine which was received on Saturday, July 24, 2021 at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in
Dar es Salaam by Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima, her Foreign Affairs counterpart, Liberata Mulamula and US Ambassador to Tanzania Donald Wright.
It also comes against the backdrop of negative sentiments by some influential individuals, emanating from the country’s prior position on Covid-19 vaccines.
By taking the jab, President Hassan is taking a completely different approach from that of her predecessor, the late John Magufuli who had openly expressed doubt about the safety of masks and vaccines.
In line with the past thinking, a cleric-cum politician, Josephat Gwajima castigated the Covid-19 vaccines in a statement that was widely condemned by people across different walks of life.
Addressing worshipers in Dar es Salaam at his Glory of Christ Tanzania Church on Sunday, Mr Gwajima spoke ‘carelessly’, saying developed countries that spearheaded the initiatives had ulterior motives in the program.
He told his unwary followers that he was dedicating this whole week to teaching against the danger of the Covid-19 vaccinations.
And yesterday, President Hassan reiterated that the vaccines would be administered at one’s own will, noting however that the country will import more vaccines through a special arrangement by the African
“We have already pressed an order at the AU through our own funding, that was set aside,” she said.
Among those vaccinated yesterday at the State House include President Hassan, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, Chief Justice Ibrahim Juma, Chief Secretary Hussein Kattanda, Foreign Minister Ambassador Libereta Mulamula and Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima.
“I am grateful that through the US government we were able to receive the vaccinations while at the same am also happy with the committee in charge of the pandemic that is working day and night to ensure everything goes well,” she said.
She hailed those that had joined her to launch the vaccination, because they would be able to show Tanzanians that it was safe.
Explaining she said that since Tanzania joined the vaccination programme there have been different views about the decision including those that were against it and those that supported it.
“We will continue to educate the people to make informed decisions, but at the moment the challenge is that the number of vaccinations that we have is small compared to needs” she said.
She noted that the decision to be vaccinated was voluntary and also based on one’s faith citing examples of six shots she received in her childhood days that have made her healthy and alive today.
However she urged the public that despite the vaccinations, they should continue taking precautions because among those vaccinated there are those who are not.
“The pandemic is real and only families that have been affected know
its impact, these families are in Moshi, Arusha, Dar es Salaam and other parts of the country, those not affected will not understand” she said.
She said there were other nations living in Tanzania including the Chinese that had requested to import the vaccinations to enable them travel to their countries without having to be quarantined.
On her part, Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender,
Elderly Children, Dorothy Gwajima said following the delivery of the vaccines, the Ministry has put up a plan for the vaccinations including identifying health centers where people will be vaccinated.
“We have also started creating awareness to enable the public to be vaccinated and reach health immunity as well as understand that the Johnson and Johnson are safe and already given to 8 million people in the US,” he said.
She said that there have been false reports that the Johnson and Johnson vaccinations had been rejected, but the reality is that there had been a few mishaps which were cleared on April 28, this year before the consignment was delivered in the country.
She further assured Tanzanians not to be wary of directives that require all those that have opted to be vaccinated to sign a consent form that makes them responsible for any eventuality on grounds that it was the normal health standard procedure.
“This is an historic event where President Hassan has launched vaccinations against Covid-19,”she said.
On his part, Prime Minister Kassim Majalia said being the chairman of the Covid-19, they were following up all issues related to the pandemic including receiving expert information.
He said Tanzania like the rest of the world was also taking action against the pandemic including preparing to start vaccinating its people.
“The Covid-19 committee will meet on July 30 to discuss a number of issues including how the public has received the vaccines and what needs to be done,” he said.