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Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 vaccination starts next week, frontline workers a priority

by Kudakwashe Vhenge

By Staff Reporter

HARARE – Zimbabwe said Friday its Covid-19 immunisation rollout will begin next week as soon as it takes delivery of its first consignment of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine on February 15.

The country will receive 800,000 doses; 600,000 of them from direct purchase and a donation of 200,000 from the Chinese government.

A schedule released by health deputy minister Dr. John Mangwiro showed three phases of inoculation targeting different demographics, with frontline and high-risk workers a priority.

Mangwiro said the first stage of Phase 1, “Will target frontline workers at significantly high risk of Covid-19. These include health workers, ports of entry personnel, ZIMRA, Immigration, customs, funeral parlour, security personnel, and village health workers.”

The second stage will see the vaccination of people with chronic illnesses, the elderly from 60 years and above, inmates and prison populations, and others in confined settlements including refugee camps, the deputy minister outlined.

Mangwiro added that Phase 2 “will cater for lecturers, all school staff population and other staff at medium risk depending with epidemiological picture of the disease” while Phase 3 “will target those at relatively low risk until everyone is covered.”

He said all the rollout logistics were being finalised, adding the health ministry had already started training health workers who will administer the vaccines. Distribution centers have also been secure across the country, the deputy minister added.

Vaccination will be done at fixed facilities and mobile outreach posts such as public hospitals, clinics, rural health centers, military health facilities, prisons, police clinics, and private hospitals.

Mangwiro assured Zimbabweans that healthcare workers will be on high alert for any “adverse reaction” to the vaccines, and encouraged people to take up the free offer to protect themselves against the respiratory virus which had infected 35,045 people and killed 1,393 others as of Friday.

“May I conclude by encouraging all eligible people in the country to take up the vaccine when their turn comes. I also want our people to note that even when they get the vaccine, they will need to practice all the other recommended Covid-19 prevention behaviors like the wearing of face masks,” the deputy minister said.

The Chinese vaccine has an efficacy rate of between 76 and 86 percent.
Zimbabwe is currently in negotiations with different manufacturers for vaccine purchase, including Russia as it seeks to immunize 60 percent of its population or 10 million citizens to achieve herd immunity.


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