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Vaccination numbers remain markedly low



AN average of 1 839 people are being vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic every working day since Zimbabwe launched the first phase of the national programme as daily inoculations remain low, further complicating the country’s fight against the pandemic.

The low vaccination figures are likely to make it difficult for Zimbabwe to achieve 60% herd immunity and end the pandemic which has since killed more than 1 500 people. 

About 36 786 people had been vaccinated as of Tuesday since the programme began on 18 February, with Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga receiving his first dose of the Sinopharm vaccine. He received his second dose on Thursday this week.

While the number of those vaccinated remains low, government efforts yo ramp up the inoculation got a boost this week after Zimbabwe received 400 000 doses from China.

Although the doses from China are a drop in the ocean, they are welcome as the country battles to counter an impending third wave amid growing warnings from health experts. 

The government has also announced that it will take delivery of more vaccines from Sinopharm, Sputnik and the Covax facility. 

However, the country is far from achieving 60% herd immunity. Cabinet blamed the low daily vaccination figures on lack of personnel at inoculation centres. 

Cabinet says the personnel administering vaccines will be doubled to include uniformed forces and health retirees.  

“To gather momentum, the number of vaccinators will be increased by involving the health worker in the uniformed forces, local authorities and health worker retirees,” cabinet said. 

However, cabinet urged citizens to continue abiding by the World Health Organisation (WHO) preventative measures to combat reinfection, at a time the globe is grappling with mutations of the virus. 

The government also says information on vaccines will be translated into all 16 official languages, while advocacy campaigns will be deployed across the country to raise awareness. 

“It will help educate people that they will be vaccinated for free. Information on frequently asked questions has also been translated into all official languages,” cabinet said. 

Nurses and doctors have often expressed concern over the lack of information on the side effects of the vaccines although, so far, most of the vaccinated persons have not experienced worrying side effects. 
Meanwhile, those who have been vaccinated say the process is not cumbersome.

One is expected to present their personal contact details, which include physical address and that of a close relative. Some candidates for vaccination were subjected to Covid-19 testing.

Before vaccination, one is also asked if they have any allergies to ascertain if it is safe to administer the vaccine. 

The vaccine is then administered by a health worker, who also issues a vaccination card with a notification of the next dose.

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