NOT all Covid-19 vaccines are equal when it comes to freedom to travel, as some countries only accept people who have been vaccinated with certain vaccines, and not brands such as AstraZeneca and Sinopharm.
Several fully-vaccinated Namibians who have interests in European or the United States – be it family, education, business or residency – have realised that they their destination country will not allow them in unless they abide by the alternative guidelines for unvaccinated people, which includes good health, proof of Covid-negativity and two weeks quarantine.
“This is time and money we cannot afford. There is no use going to Germany to just be quarantined for two weeks before continuing with the indented visit,” a source told The Namibian.
Vaccines currently being administered internationally for Covid-19 include Pfizer, Covishield (a version of AstraZeneca made in India), AstraZeneca, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), Moderna, Sinopharm and Sinovac.
The European Union has authorised four vaccines: Pfizer, BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Janssen. The European Medicines Agency says it had not received an application for authorisation of Covishield.
Approached for comment on Monday, the EU Delegation to Namibia in Windhoek said the European Council recommended that its member states can lift the restriction on non-essential travel into the EU for the travellers who have received the “last recommended dose of one of the EU authorized Covid-19 vaccines at least 14 days before arrival”.
The EU ambassy in Namibia also said an official response is being prepared for the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration in this regard.
An automatic reply at the US embassy in Windhoek stated that with the high number of Covid-19 cases, the US Embassy had cancelled all routine appointments, and would resume services as soon as it is safe to do so.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommend fully vaccinated people to act with caution when traveling internationally as more countries open up to vaccinated people.
Fully vaccinated travellers are less likely to get and spread Covid-19, although there are still risks they may be exposed to or could contract Covid-19 variants.
The CDC considers a person to be fully vaccinated two weeks after his or her final dose, no matter the vaccine administered.
Currently, the CDC recommends vaccines developed by Pfizer (two doses), Moderna (two doses) and Johnson & Johnson (one dose).
The Chinese embassy in Windhoek said there are no restrictions on vaccination brands, and that the only restriction to travel between Namibian and China has to do with the closure for visa applications, as well as the current policies of air carriers not transporting Namibians to and from China since 1 July.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Petronella Masabane said as far she is aware there has not been any official communication regarding what vaccines are authorized and which are not.
“The African Union however is engaging the EU on the issues of travel restrictions based on the vaccination people are getting,” she said.
According to her, Namibia currently has Sinopharm and AstraZeneca and is expecting a batch of J&J soon.
Masabane advised prospective travellers to acquaint themselves with their destination country’s requirements for testing and vaccine.
“In some cases there is nothing you can do about countries’ requirements. Every country has a prerogative to determine entry requirements, like we do. We can’t tell others what to do.”
Asked on the possibility where Namibia only has stock of vaccines not authorized abroad, she said Namibian will always get vaccines that are WHO-approved or for emergency-use, and so allow for a choice.