The Ministry of Health and Child Care has dispelled speculation that the COVID-19 vaccine may cause severe side effects to people living with HIV.
Social media has been awash with fake news aimed to discourage people from receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.
The ministry’s health promotions manager Mr Paul Chinakidzwa told a virtual media briefing on HIV and Covid-19 vaccination, organised by the Zimbabwe Association of Church-Related Hospitals, that those living with HIV needed to be vaccinated noting that the World Health Organisation (WHO) approved the use of these vaccines. He said:
The vaccine often includes genetic material from SARS-Cov-2, but do not contain the whole virus so as a result of that the virus does not replicate. Since they are not live vaccines they are not expected to be less safe in people who are immune-compromised.
No pharmacological interactions have been reported between Covid-19 vaccines and the antiretroviral drugs.
People living with HIV should continue to take the antiretroviral therapy even after receiving vaccination in order to maintain their health and to prevent onward HIV transmission.
Those living with HIV and not taking ART or whose HIV infection is not well managed may be at increased risk for contracting Covid-19 due to having a compromised immune system and risk having serious symptoms that lead to death.
ZACH public health advisor Dr Vimbai Mandizvidza said the major challenge facing people living with HIV is the restriction of movement to access health services.
She also said there have been supply-chain challenges as the pandemic affected the movement of procured medications and laboratory consumables.
Dr Mandizvidza said ZACH will continue to work with the Ministry of Health to ensure that they never run out of ART stocks.
More: The Herald