BY LORRAINE MUROMO/METHEMBE SIBANDA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday encouraged Zimbabweans to take COVID-19 booster shots, saying there were enough vaccines for everyone to get a third jab to boost their immune system.
“Booster shots are available and they are for free, people should go and get vaccinated,” Mnangagwa said while addressing a Zanu PF politburo meeting in Harare.
His statement came at a time when a new IHU variant of the respiratory virus has been detected in southern France, and is said to have 46 mutations more than the Omicron variant.
Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said: “While vaccines might be available at urban health institutions, there is need to address vaccine equity in remote locations such as rural communities, farming, mining and resettlement areas. Government should also make it public that people can get booster shots and stipulate the eligible people to get them.”
He said government should also deal with the issue of demand and supply to address stockouts.
“It is also important for government to clarify if one can mix and match brands of the COVID-19 vaccines such as Sinopharm and Sinovac in order to avoid confusion. It is also equally important for government to explain the importance of the additional third dose and any side effects that may result in order to gain the confidence of the population,” Rusike said.
Said Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association president Johannes Marisa: “Zimbabwe has since the last six months never run short of vaccines. People are the ones that are running away from the vaccines.”
Health deputy minister John Mangwiro said booster shots were available, adding that Zimbabweans should not panic over the new COVID-19 variants.
“Booster shots are available. If there is a hospital that does not have any, they should inform their provincial districts. Otherwise booster shots are available, and we are actually encouraging Zimbabweans to come and get vaccinated,” he said.
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