By Own Correspondent
BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe started vaccinating its frontline workers against Covid-19 on Monday targeting mainly healthcare personnel, journalists, and immigration officers.
The inaugural phase will run for ten days at various urban hospitals and health centers in districts far and wide before immunisation crews turn to other demographics, seeking to inoculate 60 percent of the country’s population or 10 million people.
Many recipients, especially doctors and nurses, posted pictures of themselves on social media getting vaccinated while encouraging others to follow suit.
There is growing public hesitancy against the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine being used in Zimbabwe, whose efficacy against the now-dominant South African variant has yet to be established.
“Mass vaccination is our only hope of returning to normalcy,” wrote Norman Matara, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights in a Twitter post.
“Vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective and have helped in eradicating pandemics since time immemorial. Happy to receive my Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine today.”
The recipients will get a second shot in four weeks’ time to get full protection from the respiratory virus that has killed 1,441 people in Zimbabwe and infected 35,862 others.
Vice president Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles as health minister, was the first to take the Chinese vaccine in front of cameras last Thursday promising that authorities had taken “scientific processes to ascertain the efficacy of the Sinopharm vaccine, which was confirmed to be 79 percent.”
But he did not say if that applied to the more contagious South African variant, which has a higher fatality rate.
Vouching for its safety, President Emmerson Mnangagwa also urged Zimbabweans to take up the vaccine on Sunday saying he and his cabinet ministers would also get vaccinated.
Zimbabwe launched its vaccination drive after receiving a donation of 200,000 Sinopharm doses from the Chinese government.
The country has also procured an additional 600,000 doses that will arrive next month, according to government officials.