President Hassan was the first to receive the vaccine live on television and reassured the country that the injections are safe.
“I am a mother of four children, a grandmother of several grandchildren and a wife, but most of all I am president and commander-in-chief. I would not put myself in danger knowing that I have all these responsibilities as the shepherd of the nation, ”she said during a ceremony at the State House in the city of Dar es Salaam.
The Prime Minister of the country, several ministers as well as prominent religious leaders were also vaccinated from the 1,058,400 doses received.
President Hassan’s predecessor, the late John Magufuli, has been widely criticized as a Covid-19 denier which has endangered people’s lives. Before dying in mid-March, former leader John Magafuli repeatedly rejected the severity of Covid-19 in his country and urged its citizens to “pray for the coronavirus”.
Tanzania under the Magufuli regime has not made any offers for coronavirus vaccines, despite qualifying for the COVAX program. Instead, the government has promoted non-pharmaceutical approaches such as herbal treatments and steam inhalation to fight the viral disease.
Shortly after his death in March, President Hassan formed an expert committee to review the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines.
The multidisciplinary team recommended common public health guidelines that are already in place in most countries in Africa and the rest of the world.
Tanzania did not join COVAX, the global initiative to deliver vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, until June 15.
Vaccines are still optional in the country, even for essential and frontline workers. But the president has assured nearly 60 million people that anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one.
Among those vaccinated was Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima, a 50-year-old doctor who promoted herbal remedies and steam baths as unfounded alternative ways to manage and prevent the virus before receiving the vaccines.
She announced that Tanzania was in the third wave of the pandemic, but her ministry does not regularly share public data on cases, recoveries or deaths.
Tanzania expects more doses on the way from the African Union, confirmed the president who has already placed an order without specifying the number.