Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan and other government officials received their COVID-19 vaccine at the launch of the country’s inoculation campaign on Wednesday.

President Hassan, who received the country’s batch of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over the weekend, expressed confidence in the safety of the vaccines and said the country would pursue more doses.

Tanzania joined a string of African countries who are inoculating citizens against the virus. On the continent, it’s only Burundi and Eritrea that are yet to begin vaccinations.

The Tanzanian vaccine rollout was broadcast live on national television where the prime minister, health minister and other high profile government officials also got their shots.

President Hassan said she hoped citizens would follow her lead and take the jab once it’s made available.

“I would not sacrifice myself and walk towards death and danger. Knowing that I have responsibilities. I am depended on as a mother, a grandmother, as a wife, as a president and as the commander in chief. But I came forth to lead the way as I know there are people behind me, people who follow me,” she said.

Tanzania received 1 058 400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine on Saturday through the COVIX initiative.

The government says it is planning to import five other vaccines from other sources.

At the launch of the campaign, health minister Dorothy Gwajima vowed to roll out a public education campaign to address vaccine misinformation.

President Hassan’s vaccination is seen as a break from the policies of her late predecessor president John Magufuli, who repeatedly dismissed vaccines and the threat of the pandemic. – Report by Daniel Kijo

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