Who will you trust about vaccines?
By Jessica Long
Chargé d’Affaires, U.S. Embassy Namibia.
The United States Government (USG) has been a partner in health with the Namibian government for nearly two decades. We have been incredibly successful in our joint efforts related to HIV and TB.
These efforts have revealed our commitment and reliability on issues of health. Fifteen years ago, people in Namibia were dying every day from HIV/AIDS. Families were losing loved ones; children were losing parents. But the Government has the vision and determination to find a way forward and fight the epidemic.
HIV is now a chronic disease that can be managed with medication. A person living with HIV in Namibia can live a long and healthy life. The partnership between the U.S. and Namibian governments on health has proven to be trustworthy and life-saving.
Our partnership has expanded in the age of COVID-19. The government of Namibia is demonstrating the same determination and commitment to protecting people and the economy from COVID-19 and the United States of America continues to be a committed partner. A turning point in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic came with the availability of vaccines. To date, more than 10 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the world. The United States has donated 224,620 doses of Pfizer BioNTech, and 168,000 doses of Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are scheduled to arrive in Namibia soon.
COVID-19 vaccines are the most monitored vaccines in history, and global authorities such as the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) agree without question that these vaccines are both safe and effective.
Just as the government scaled up the life-saving impact Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) has for people living with HIV, the government has also facilitated access to hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 vaccines for Namibians. Despite progress in fully vaccinating more than 350,000 Namibians, the unvaccinated remain at risk, as well as a risk to others. And low vaccination rates make tourists more hesitant to visit Namibia. Vaccines save lives and protect the economy.
Despite the unanimous view from scientists and public health experts around the world that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, some people who have no proven track record on health issues have used social media to spread false information. The push of false information is such a dangerous threat that the world uses a new term, infodemic, to describe it. This is because the volume and intensity of the false information circulating in the era we are living in can cause almost as much harm as a disease.
With all the noise, information, and falsehoods about vaccines, the question comes down to who you will trust. The accomplishments of the health partnership between the United States and Namibia should offer confidence that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The data tells us this. Please get vaccinated today to protect yourself and those around you.