Rwandans urged to overcome COVID-19 rumors and get vaccinated

Dushimimana Marie Anne

The Government of Rwanda and health experts urge Rwandans to take COVID-19 vaccines as Some people refuse to get the shot saying that they are not trustable.

Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is the most trusted vaccine in Rwanda, while AstraZeneca due to its worldwide record of blood clot side effects incident, is less liked.

Several European countries suspended the use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine amid safety concerns after some blood-clotting events that regulators feared might be tied to the shot.

Besides, some Rwandans are not yet vaccinated not only because of the safety concerns of the vaccines to their lives but also due to their religious beliefs and rumors circulating around all these COVID-19 vaccines.

Mukamana, 40 (not her really name) told Integonews that she can’t be vaccinated because COVID-19 and all preventive measures are satanic, and the shots are just to control the world.

“If they are not satanic (vaccines) why leaders push us to take them by force? It’s my duty to protect my soul,” she said.

Mukamana, her husband, and her 5 children are not yet vaccinated and they don’t plan to give up on their decision easily, she vowed.

Réné Murenzi, 33, said he will be vaccinated after four years to make sure that everyone taking it right now, will still alive.

“Honestly we don’t know what is containing in these so-called vaccines. How can a vaccine be developed as quick as that, and it is even not tried like any other medicine or vaccine, then they start to use them on human beings? It is not wise,” he said.

Dr Menelas Nkeshimana, Head of Department of Accident and Emergency at Centre Hospitalier, and Sub-Cell Lead at Rwanda Joint Task Force for Covid-19 said more sensitization is needed to change the mindsets of these people.

“Fortunately, these people are very few. However, they all have reasons behind their refusal to get vaccinated. They may refer on rumors and misconceptions around COVID-19 and they don’t even have where to get the right information. It is our duty to sensitize them continuously, they will understand because they also love their lives,” he said.

Besides, based on statistics the pandemic is more among the unvaccinated people compared to the vaccinated ones in Rwanda and worldwide.

“Unvaccinated COVID-19 patients death risk becomes 11 times higher compared to vaccinated people. We have to tell all these facts so that those people take the right decisions,” he added.

How COVID-19 Vaccines work

To understand how COVID-19 vaccines work, it is important to first look at how our bodies fight illness as it is illustrated on cdv.gov.

When germs, such as the virus that causes COVID-19, invade our bodies, they attack and multiply. This invasion, called an infection, is what causes illness.

Our immune system uses several tools to fight infection. Blood contains red cells, which carry oxygen to tissues and organs, and white or immune cells, which fight infection.

The first time a person is infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, it can take several days or weeks for their body to make and use all the germ-fighting tools needed to get over the infection. After the infection, the person’s immune system remembers what it learned about how to protect the body against that disease.

The body keeps a few T-lymphocytes, called “memory cells,” that go into action quickly if the body encounters the same virus again. When the familiar antigens are detected, B-lymphocytes produce antibodies to attack them. Experts are still learning how long these memory cells protect a person against the virus that causes COVID-19.

“The chance we have today, let make it fruitful. The future belongs to the vaccinated people. We are not sure that we will not have other COVID-19 variants which are worse than the first ones. Let’s follow all the preventive measures,” he said.

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