From An Eager To A Choosy Generation

Botswana's vaccination roll-out has picked pace PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
Botswana's vaccination roll-out has picked pace PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG

The vaccination programme has rolled through intricate stages from eager 'Ma 74' past the reluctant young adults down to the choosy youth.

Botswana has entered Phase Three of its flourishing vaccination programme, but like other phases, there is a story to tell. The young are not necessarily vaccine-hesitant but are choosy. The Minister of Health and Wellness, Edwin Dikoloti revealed the concern when giving an update on Botswana Television on the roll-out recently. The eagerness could be there, but the young people pick and choose, a behaviour reflective of the varied vaccination uptake patterns within the demography.

The age group that is popularly known as ‘Ma74’ was more than ready with its arm while those aged 30 years and above had their reasons for delaying the jab. Some had to wait for a weekend to pass before they could take the jab because they wanted to enjoy their poison of choice, alcohol. However, the 'street savvy' generation appears to prefer Johnson and Johnson and Moderna jabs over other vaccines with a view that they are more superior. Still, it has also emerged that some of the young people are reluctant to get the jab hence their preference for the once-off Johnson and Johnson shot.

There is still a lot of confusion concerning the efficacy results of some vaccines, which is behind the choosy behaviour of the youth. Dikoloti said the country has received about 1.8 million vaccines but the problem is that people are not turning up for vaccination as expected. He said up until last week, at least 51% of the target population which is about 1.5 million people had received the first dose, and the target is to have vaccinated at least 64% of the eligible population by end of December. “This is achievable. Re rekile melemo re shota ka batho go kentiwa. People are not coming out in numbers as expected. Let’s encourage people to take the jab from the family level.

We have been coming up with strategies to encourage people to take the jab. We have ‘Ya le nna mokentong’ a strategy that encourages families to encourage others to take the jab,” Dikoloti said.

The Minister said everyone, regardless of nationality is eligible to take the jab. Furthermore, Dikoloti said even those who have lost their identity cards (Omang) or do not have them but are ready to take the jab will be vaccinated. “The majority of tertiary institutions have clinics and we have a strategy to engage them to help extend our vaccination to the 18 years and above eligible age group. If it can force us to vaccinate at night we will do so in making sure that everyone is vaccinated,” Dikoloti said.

Ministry of Health and Wellness public relations officer, Christopher Nyanga said they have engaged private facilities to help speed up the vaccine rollout due to overcrowding in public health facilities. Nyanga said they have made it a priority to reach out to people in far-flung areas to encourage them to get inoculated. Nyanga implored the public to continue adhering to COVID-19 protocols as a vaccine is not a cure. “The end of the State of Emergency does not mean the end of COVID-19. I am pleading with people to exercise caution at all times to stop the spread of the virus," Nyanga said.

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