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Malawi: Low Response to Covid-19 Vaccination Is Due to Rampant Public Misinformation

Journalists in the country have been advised against sensationalizing reporting on the CoVID-19 vaccines but rather give out correct information to the public so that the uptake of the vaccine increases.

with The Nyasa Times

Journalists in the country have been advised against sensationalizing reporting on the CoVID-19 vaccines but rather give out correct information to the public so that the uptake of the vaccine increases.

This was said by Malawi Red Cross Society acting director of programme, Patrick Phiri on Saturday during an orientation meeting in Blantyre where journalists were oriented on the best reporting practices on CoVID-19 vaccinations.

He said that there is a lot of misinformation going around in the country about CoVID-19 vaccinations and this has led to the low uptake of the vaccines.

Phiri said Malawi Red Cross Society has trust in the media in communicating clear information to the public, and the training was vital to iron out some misinformation so that the media could be well equipped with expertise to communicate effectively on CoVID-19 preventive measures and vaccinations.

He added that now that the country was experiencing the CoVID-19 third wave, it was very important that a lot of people get vaccinated to reduce the number of deaths and hospitalization in the country.

“We support government’s effort in fighting this pandemic,” he said. “We believe it is our duty to complement government’s efforts by encouraging the public not to listed to all these conspiracy theories about the vaccines and rather focus the good that comes after getting the dose.”

Phiri said in an effort to fight the third wave, Malawi Red Cross Society has come up with the response plan which is budgeted at K5.4 billion and revealed that they have already sourced K2.5 billion from their partners.

He went on to say they were optimistic that the deficit from their CoVID-19 response plan budget will be outsourced so that as an organization they can widely communicate and respond.

Acting Deputy Director for Health Education Services in the Ministry of Health, Mavuto Thomas said since last week, the number of cases of people testing positive for CoVID-19 seems to be slightly declining and the number of admissions was also slow.

He said although these are positive signs, the country still has a way to go as the number of deaths remains constant which is worrisome.

Thomas said the country was losing about 23 people on daily basis which was high enough and worrisome.

He attributed the rise in number of deaths to people coming late to health facilities, and urged people that are diagnosed with CoVID-19 or have symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pains, and loss of speech or movement, to immediately visit the hospital for medical assistance.

Thomas revealed that 87 percent of people who are admitted in hospital facilities have not been vaccinated, which shows the importance of getting vaccinated to avoid hospitalization and even death.

According to Sunday’s situation report from the presidential task force on CoVID-19, the country registered 187 new cases, 182 new recoveries and 13 new deaths.

All cases are locally transmitted with Blantyre registering the highest at 50, Zomba at 40, Lilongwe at 34 and 21 from Mchinji.

Of the 13 new deaths registered, four were from Mchinji, two each from Blantyre and Kasungu, and one each from Lilongwe, Dowa, Thyolo, Rumphi, and Nsanje Districts.

Cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 58,083 cases including 1,968 deaths at case fatality rate of 3.39% while a total of 43,020 cases have now recovered — at recovery rate of 74.1%.

The total number of active cases is 12,863 and there were 33 new admissions in the treatment units while 44 cases were discharged — bringing a total of 274 active cases were hospitalised as of Sunday evening.

Of those hospitalised, Lilongwe and Blantyre had the highest at 64 and 63 respectively with 26 in Mzimba North, 17 in Zomba and 12 in Mchinji.

The positive cases out of the total number tested in past 24 hours of Sunday was at a positivity rate of 17.9% while a weekly positivity rate (seven days moving average) was at 17.9%.

On COVID-19 vaccination, a total of 728,388 vaccine doses has been administered in the country so far with a total of 463,848 having had their first dose of AstraZeneca and 159,229 their second jab.

A total of 105,671 people have received Johnson & Johnson vaccine with 3,551 people had it as of Sunday — bringing a total of 264,900 people that are fully vaccinated.–Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira

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