The country’s Covid-19 vaccination programme begins today in Harare with frontline health workers expected to be among the first to be inoculated.
This follows the arrival on Monday of 200 000 vaccine doses from China which will be administered on 100 000 people under the initial phase of the programme.
According to an advisory from the Ministry of Health and Child Care yesterday, the first shots of the Covid-19 vaccine will be administered at Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare, to kickstart the country’s largest ever mass immunisation campaign.
“The vaccination programme will start on Thursday, February 18, 2021, starting with Harare Metropolitan Province.
“As we roll out this important vaccination exercise, I want to encourage all priority populations to take up the vaccine for their protection. Vaccination, however, remains voluntary and will be free of charge as per Government’s previous pronouncements,” said the Ministry of Health
Health officials have already been trained to administer the jabs with preparations continuing for the continued implementation of the programme which is targeting 10 million people.
Zimbabwe’s first phase of the vaccination programme is being carried out using the Sinopharm vaccine which was donated to Zimbabwe by the People’s Republic of China.
Negotiations are ongoing to procure more vaccines at a cost US$6,7 million, while there are commitments to boost the country’s capacity from countries such as China, Russia, India as well as the World Health Organisation.
Several immunisation programmes have been done in the country to protect citizens against different ailments, especially the five major killer diseases.
Covid-19 has killed more than 1 400 Zimbabweans in less than a year, prompting a cocktail of preventative and control measures from the Government, working in tandem with the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Government is working with local and international partners to boost capacity of the immunisation programme.
The Health Ministry reiterated that it would, under the first phase, target those at the highest risk of being infected by the global pandemic who include the elderly andvulnerable groups.
Those targeted under the second phase encompass college and university lecturers and school teachers while the rest of the population at low risk will be catered for under the final phase.
“The first phase of the programme which we are announcing today will see the vaccination of populations at high risk of Covid-19, that is, our frontline workers (health workers, village health workers, ports of entry personnel, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, Immigration and security health workers).
“The inaugural vaccination will take place at Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare at 10am, February 18, 2021.”
President Mnangagwa has said no more lives should be lost to the pandemic and vaccinating the population has been rated as the best foot forward in the country’s response to tame the disease.
China and Zimbabwe continue to enjoy good bilateral ties and have been cooperating in efforts to tame the virus.
Chinese medical experts are in the country to help local health personnel to effectively administer the Covid-19 vaccine.
As the highest risk groups are vaccinated, the programme will move to stage two which targets those with chronic medical conditions and the over 60s.
Monday’s batch of Sinopharm doses will be augmented by a far larger shipment from China next month.