Mukudzei Chingwere-Herald Reporter
An upgraded Covid-19 vaccination blitz targeting everyone above 12 years starts today to minimise infection rates and the severity of symptoms, while the other half of the control measures like mandatory wearing of face masks, remain in place.
Although Covid-19 vaccinations have been in place for more than a year and readily available for everyone who comes forward since the middle of last year, the numbers coming forward have been very low in recent months although only a little over a third of those eligible have been vaccinated.
Along with the need to get those who have not come forward to get vaccinated, the medical experts have cleared Covid-19 vaccines to children aged 12 and over, allowing secondary schools in particular to have much higher levels of safety.
Addressing the media at his offices in Harare yesterday, Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Constantino Chiwenga said the Government, in collaboration with all stakeholders, would conduct the mass vaccination campaign blitz.
“The campaign aims to vaccinate all those from the age of 12 years and above,” he said.
“The campaign, which is spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and Child Care, will be conducted in two phases during the months of March, April and May 2022.
“The first phase will run from 21 March to 3 April 2022, while the second phase will run from 2 May to 15 May 2022.”
VP Chiwenga said those eligible for vaccination will get their first, second or third doses at any designated vaccination centre.
Vaccinations will take place in both public and private health facilities, schools, workplaces, markets and churches as well as at outreach points across the country.
“I, therefore, urge all adults and children from the age of 12 and above to get vaccinated,” said VP Chiwenga.
“It is my privileged advice to you all that Covid-19 vaccines protect you and your families.
“They save lives and preserve livelihoods. In addition, Covid-19 vaccines are also safe and effective against most variants.”
Zimbabwe has won international acclaim for a thorough and comprehensive response to the global pandemic.
The country’s vaccination drive is also a model for many, not only on the continent, but even beyond.
In terms of immunising its population against the Covid-19 virus, more than 35 percent of the targeted people are fully vaccinated and numbers are expected to grow following the approval to inoculate the younger age group.
VP Chiwenga emphasised the importance of vaccination and continuous following the scientifically proven laid down protocols.
“May I take this opportunity to re-assure the nation that Government is, however, committed to ending the pandemic,” he said.
“Currently, Government is implementing several key public health and social measures to protect individuals and communities.
“One of such key interventions is the Covid-19 vaccination programme.”
VP Chiwenga said “the thrust of the vaccination programme is to achieve herd immunity, so that the severity of the Covid-19 disease and or possibly death, is mitigated.
“It is quite encouraging that the country is geared to strengthen vaccination efforts, in order to help reduce the development of new and deadly variants that could fuel the pandemic.”
VP Chiwenga noted that the country is facing a number of vaccine uptake challenges that need urgent attention.
He reminded people that Covid-19 has continued to cause untold suffering throughout the world, since it was first reported in December 2019, with Zimbabwe having experienced four waves of infection.
He reminded everyone to follow official communication, which basically forwarded the scientific consensus and advice, and not to be swayed by irresponsible social media messaging.
VP Chiwenga said those spreading falsehoods on social media should desist from doing so, especially when dealing with matters that concern the sanctity of human life.
Chief Co-ordinator of the National Response to the Covid-19 pandemic ,Dr Agnes Mahomva, emphasised that mandatory wearing of face masks was still in place and that those entering Zimbabwe should have valid negative Covid-19 certificates.