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Bulawayo requests for more Covid-19 vaccine doses



BULAWAYO’S available Covid-19 vaccine stocks will run out in a fortnight and local officials are appealing to central government to avail more doses to ensure the city’s vaccination drive gains wider reach.

Meanwhile, in Matabeleland South the inoculation programme was beset by shortages of vaccines until recently when the Health and Child Care ministry availed 20 000 doses, a cabinet minister told The NewsHawks on Wednesday. Matabeleland South had only received 11 000 doses as of February.

The country’s Covid-19 vaccination has entered the second phase targeting teachers, members of the security services, judiciary security, judicial sector and citizens with chronic diseases, among other groupings.

However, more than a week after this publication highlighted the challenges hampering Bulawayo’s Covid-19 vaccination drive, city officials reveal that the shortage of vaccines is persisting.

Bulawayo City Council’s director of health services Edwin Sibanda told a provincial Covid-19 taskforce meeting on Tuesday this week that vaccines are inadequate.

“The 39 000 vaccines that we have in stock at the moment can last us between 10-13 days and it is not good enough to call the people to come for vaccinations. We want a situation whereby we have a lot of vaccines in stock.”

This comes at a time the government plans to roll out a mass vaccination drive in Bulawayo and Harare on a yet-to-be-announced date, according to Local Government minister July Moyo, who was also in attendance.

Sibanda said the city has been “vaccinating between 2 500 to 3 000 daily”, figures he said can be easily ramped up if more vaccines are made available. In Matabeleland South, the same challenges have beset the vaccination programme, according to the provincial chairperson of the ad-hoc inter-ministerial taskforce on Covid-19, the minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mangaliso Ndlovu.

“We had limited doses. This is because the vaccines that had been sent to the province were limited and targeting only frontline workers like health workers,” Ndlovu said in an interview.

“However, the province has since received 20 000 doses with more expected ahead of the rollout of a mass vaccination drive in the border towns of Beitbridge and Plumtree where we have two major land borders.”

The government says it plans to vaccinate about 25 000 people in Plumtree and 26 000 in Beitbridge, the busiest port of entry.

As of Tuesday, the Health and Child Care ministry said the country had recorded 37 875 cases, 35 058 recoveries, 1 554 fatalities and vaccinated 288 229 people across the country. The government has authorised the use of China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines, Russia’s Sputnik V and Covaxin from India.

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