Zanzibar started its Covid-19 vaccination campaign last week using the Sinovac brand, two months ahead of Mainland Tanzania where vaccination is planned to take off in September or October. The exercise targets frontline workers first.
Omar Dadi Shajak, permanent secretary at Zanzibar’s Ministry of Health said the vaccines were initially meant for the aborted Haj pilgrims. He did not give details of when the consignment arrived or how it was acquired but said the second dose will be administered in two weeks’ time.
Meanwhile, the government in Dodoma is seeking $37.4 million to meet customs clearing costs for its vaccine consignments, vaccine insurance, and waste management, in readiness for the vaccination programme.
The ministry of health said the country requires $52.2 million to roll out a comprehensive national Covid-19 vaccination campaign later in September or October, and so far the government has come up with $13,380,721 and Gavi $1,381,724.
So far the $37.4 funding gap is expected to be filled through various sources including the World Bank, World Health Organisation, Unicef, and Gavi.
The first batch of vaccines is expected from Covax, targeting all frontline workers, all cadres of health personnel and people with co-morbidities, and those above 48 years. At least 24.1 million doses will be required to cover 95 percent of the targeted priority groups by the end of 2022.
Tanzania recently launched an 84-page document on the national vaccination plan, directing vaccine types, regulatory preparedness, strategy and co-ordination; cold chain, supply and waste management, monitoring and surveillance, acceptance and uptake, and evaluation and costing.
The Covid-19 task force commissioned by President Samia Suluhu had recommended the use of BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen Ad26, COV2, Novavax, and AstraZeneca vaccines in that preference order. And as schools resumed two weeks ago, schools appear to be following the government's new Covid-19 guidelines.
Although Tanzania is now releasing information on Covid infections, it’s still withholding official government data on the number of deaths, which along with vaccination is among key conditions cited by the IMF for a new $574 million loan.