Thousands of Malawians nationwide braced the cold weather to queue for hours to get vaccinated after COVID-19 vaccination centers reopened on Monday.

The southeastern African nation of about 17.5 million ran out of vaccines in June this year.

However, the country received 192,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine on Saturday donated by France through COVAX, a World Health Organization initiative for the fair distribution of coronavirus vaccines worldwide.

“I did not get the first jab, therefore I woke up early to be first in line and get my second vaccine,” said Peter Banda, one of the hundreds of people on the queue at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in the country’s commercial city of Blantyre.

According to the Public Health Institute of Malawi, 428,407 people are vaccinated with only 43,165 people having taken both jabs.

Charles Mwansambo, Malawi’s health secretary, told Anadolu Agency that the country will receive about 1.3 million doses of assorted COVID-19 vaccines between July and September as it targets to vaccinate about 10.5 million or 60% of the population.

“Apart from the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, other vaccines scheduled to arrive are US’ Jansen and Pfizer,” he said.

Due to low vaccinated population, the country has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases over the past three months.

On Sunday, 22 people died while 571 new cases were recorded, bringing active cases to 10, 506.

Health rights activist Maziko Matemba said the number of deaths can be reduced if the number of vaccinated people increases.

He urged the government to ramp up efforts to secure more COVID-19 vaccines.

“For the country to have access to enough vaccines, there will be a need to mobilize resources locally in the national budget and not rely on foreign support,” Matemba said.

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