On 5 March 2021, Malawi received first consignment of COVID-19 Vaccine. The COVAX Facility shipped to Malawi 360,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and on March 11 Malawi launched a COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
But despite Country’s President Dr Lazarus Chakwera and other top government officials leading the nation in receiving the vaccine, many refused to believe that the Vaccine was good for their bodies.
There were a lot of myths and beliefs surrounding the COVID-19 Vaccine with others talking about blood clotting if one got the vaccine, dying or even becoming sterile.
Social media was also scary, as people were sharing stories that those who got the Vaccine would die in 2 years and that the COVID-19 vaccine would affect their sexual performance.
With a Year and 9 months gone since Malawi started administering the Vaccine, MIJ Online went around to talk to those who received the jab and what has happened to them afterwards.
A 69 year old Oliva Makowa from Bandawe Village in Salima district received two doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine last year and a booster this year.
Makowa said despite hearing about the myths, she still went to receive the Vaccine and nothing strange has happened to her since she took the jab.
“People said one would die after receiving the Vaccine, others said the Vaccine was part of initiation ritual to get you join the Satanic Church but despite all this I went to get the Vaccine and my life has been normal since then. All members of my family are alive and healthy despite taking the jab, no one has died and none has joined the famous 666,” said Makowa.
Issah Zilare from Namajika Village T/A Kambwiri in the same district said his sexual performance as a man remains the same 10 months after receiving the Vaccine.
“Nothing has changed, I and my wife are still the same. Our sexual performance hasn’t been affected,” said Zilare.
Joseph Ngwangwa, from Malimba Village, Traditional Authority Kalonga is a Jehovah’s Witness Member but despite hearing about the 666 belief, he still went ahead to get the jab.
Ngwangwa said, “Myself and other Jehovah’s witness church members received the jab but nothing has happened to us, we haven’t joined Satanism and we still congregate at our Kingdom Hall”.
Despite no one coming in the open to say that the above myths and beliefs have happened to them or their loved ones, myths and beliefs still affect COVID-19 vaccine uptake to this date.
Tabu Chione, a Vaccinator under UNICEF said they are still facing challenges getting people to receive the Vaccine.
As a solution, Dingaan Mithi Programme Manager for Journalists Association Against AIDS said they are working with local traditional leaders, faith leaders and stakeholders within the expanded program on immunization (EPI) to raise awareness on COVID-19 Vaccination.
“JournAIDS and Christian Aid are working in the four health facilities of Mchoka, Lifuwu, Chipoka and ADMARC/Simayiwa. In the first week of the campaign we have reached and vaccinated 1,610 people held at the end of October, 2022,” said Mithi.
Malawi targets to vaccinate 13.5 million people (70% of its population) by June 2023 but has managed to fully vaccinate 3.2 million people as of December 09, 2022.