ZANZIBAR Second Vice- President Hemed Suleiman Abdulla has stressed that vaccination against Covid-19 is purely voluntary and safe as guaranteed by our medical experts.
He said that Covid-19 vaccine is already available in Zanzibar, and whoever wants to be vaccinated against the pandemic can have the jab voluntarily.
“It is purely voluntary and safe as guaranteed by our medical experts,” said Mr Abdulla during a meeting over the weekend with clerics from Islam and Christian religious leaders to discuss current social challenges facing Zanzibar community.
Mr Abdulla further said that Covid-19, at its third wave, is a threat necessitating urgent measures including concerted efforts to address and mitigate effects.
He said that the government with advice from medical experts and World Health Organisation (WHO), has approved voluntarily vaccination.
“Do not mislead people with false information. No one will be forced to have the vaccine,” Mr Abdulla said. However, he asked the religious leaders to promote health precautions, which will protect people from contracting the disease and the likes of cholera and malaria.
On his part, Zanzibar Minister for Health, Social Welfare, Elders, Gender and Children Mr Nassor Ahmed Mazrui has said that priority is currently given for health staff and workers in tourism industry- hotels and entry points, who routinely get into contact with people, who may be Covid-19 carriers.
The Minister of State- President’s Office (Constitution, Legal Affairs, Public Service, and Good Governance), Mr Haroun Ali Suleiman commended the religious leaders for attending the meeting, saying they have a critical role to play in the ongoing war against Covid-19 and abuse of children.
The meeting was organised by the Mufti’s office of Zanzibar with support from UNICEF and the Tanzania Interfaith Partnership (TIP), where several participants spoke on the need for Covid- 19 vaccine, observing health precautions, and reinforcing war against use of illicit drugs and abuse children and women.
Clerics Fr Phillip Munguti from Anglican Church and Sheikh Samir Dhulfikar from the Ulamaa Council said that healthy nation/people remains prerequisite in building and maintaining peace and stability of a country.
“Since, the government has approved Covid-19 vaccine; people shouldn’t ignore and give false statements. “Religion also teaches us about being afraid of dangers like coronavirus, and that once one is afraid it is better to seek help.
The help is having vaccines to be protected,” said Sheikh Shaaban Bathash, supported by Mr Munguti urged his fellow clergy to apply the same efforts in preaching to the public to avoid evil deeds.
Speaking on behalf of UNICEF, Mr Lawrence Oundo- deputy representative for UNICEF- said that in addition to the war against Covid-19, clerics are in a better position to help address underage marriages, and violence against children and women making Zanzibar an uncomfortable place for the vulnerable groups.
He said “We all know there is no cure for Covid- 19, hence the importance of focusing on prevention.
The government will lead on a rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, the only protection that exists. We all have a role to play in ensuring people know how to stay safe, but your role as religious leaders is one of the most profound.”