Sunday Mail Reporter
The GOVERNMENT yesterday took delivery of 500 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, with a further two million expected from China this week.
Authorities are targeting to procure more than seven million vaccines by end of next month.
This puts the Government in a firm position to procure the 10 million vaccines required to attain herd immunity before year-end and they are planning to make vaccination compulsory for certain groups of people.
Distribution of the latest consignment will be carried out systematically, with hotspots such as border towns, areas that are currently under intensified lockdowns, prisons, and busy markets like Mbare Musika, being prioritised.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube and Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro led a delegation that received the inoculations at Robert Mugabe International Airport in Harare.
Addressing journalists at a press briefing soon after receiving the vaccines, Prof Ncube said the doses would help to save lives and reopen the economy.
“In terms of our vaccination programme, this is yet another addition to the roadmap for the acquisition of vaccines. We have received 500 000 today, by end of next week we will receive another two million, two weeks after that we want to bring another 1,5 million. We want to carry on so that by end of August we bring in another 3,5 million vaccines again from China,” he said.
“We are very organised, we are very focused and we are very diligent in terms of implementing our vaccination programme because saving lives is very important.
“But it’s not just about saving lives, it’s about economic recovery because when people are vaccinated its easier for companies to operate, it’s easier to do business and carrying on with business is what will revive the economy.”
Dr Mangwiro said people will soon be required to produce vaccination certificates for them to operate their businesses or go to work.
“Their (vaccines) arrival really excites us as you can see the Covid-19 disease is back via the third wave,” he said.
“As the Government we are going to target border towns such as Beitbridge, Plumtree, Chirundu, Kariba, Nyamapanda and Forbes Border Post (Mutare) so that we make sure that if things continue getting worse at least our border areas are protected because you will find out that most of the infections are coming via our borders.
“We are also going to target areas that are very risky and that the disease can easily come through which are tobacco auction floors, GMB markets, Cotton Sales Floors and even the Musikas, Mbare Musika, Renkini, Machipisa, Sakubva and all such markets.”
Dr Mangwiro said the Government is considering making vaccination mandatory for those working in crowded places to curb the spread of the virus.
“We are going to say if you really want to be selling at your market place or to be where you are, you need to be vaccinated. We definitely need to see that you have your (vaccination) certificate,” he said.
“We do not want any Zimbabweans to be a risk to another Zimbabwean, we need to protect each other. Every Zimbabwean has a right to life and we don’t want you to be part of the risk so we encourage everyone to be vaccinated.
“Also, we are not going to target these areas only, we are also going to make sure that prisoners are vaccinated. Those who work in the prison areas are also going to be vaccinated.
“Any area of concentration of people we will definitely make sure that people are vaccinated.”
In an interview with The Sunday Mail, chief co-ordinator in the National Response to Covid-19 in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Agnes Mahomva, said the Government has addressed logistical glitches which were causing artificial shortages of vaccines.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care is distributing vaccines to every corner of the country so there is no shortage there,” she said.
“But there are some places like Harare, for example, which are pushing their allocation at a much faster rate than other areas. What we are doing now is redistribution to say those who are pushing their vaccines at a slower pace we will take some from them and give to those who have exhausted their allocations.
“So yes there may be some logistical glitches there but like I said redistribution is one way of dealing with it.
“We are also prioritising those who are coming for the second doses as we are saying no one should fail to get their full immunisation.”
Meanwhile, China’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Guo Shaochun, said his country will continue to provide Zimbabwe with vaccines owing to the sound relations between Harare and Beijing.
“Although there is a huge demand for Chinese vaccines both domestically and internationally, we will continue to do our best to ensure the supply to Zimbabwe. Much more will come in the very near future,” he posted on his official Twitter account yesterday.