Herd immunity before year-end in sight

Source: Herd immunity before year-end in sight | The Herald

Herd immunity before year-end in sight

Rumbidzayi Zinyuke

Health Reporter

The uninterrupted supply of Covid-19 vaccines coupled with the steady increase in the daily vaccination rates will boost the national vaccine roll out programme and ensure that Zimbabwe reaches herd immunity by year end.

The country is targeting to vaccinate 10 million people and so far, 2 453 529 people have received their first dose while 1 561 368 have been fully vaccinated.

Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director Mr Itai Rusike expressed confidence that the Government’s plans to vaccinate 60 percent of the population by December were achievable.

“The steady increase in daily vaccination over the past several days has been very encouraging as it could move us faster than initially anticipated towards reaching the required herd immunity of having 60 percent of the population being fully vaccinated. 

“We also welcome the uninterrupted continuous arrival of the Covid-19 vaccines,” he said.

There has been increased demand for the vaccines as more people have come forward to get the jab leaving most vaccination centres overwhelmed.

However, experts have said the guaranteed supply of the vaccines as well as interventions to increase the pace of vaccination will make a positive impact in the roll out programme.

This week, the Cabinet also approved the administration of vaccines to children in the 14-17 age group.

 “Now that schools will be resuming classes shortly it is a welcome development that the 14-17 years age groups that were previously not eligible for vaccination are now being considered for inoculation to prevent them from Covid-19 infections, hospitalisation or even death,” added Mr Rusike.

He said the Government should also purchase more Sputnik V and Covaxin doses to ensure that those who received the first dose of the two vaccines do not have to wait for long to get their second dose.

Although the roll out programme has been impressive, Mr Rusike said more could still be done to ensure more people, especially in marginalised communities get inoculated.

“Community Health Workers can have a significant impact on vaccine uptake by supporting mainstream health workers in capturing real time data on vaccination status and working closely with the appropriate health facilities to target defaulters and close coverage gaps. 

“Community Health Workers can also assist with Covid-19 vaccine literacy and behaviour change to counter barriers on misinformation and disinformation,” he added.

So far, the country has already acquired 13 million doses out of the 20 million required in order to achieve herd immunity.

This month, the country received 2,5 million vaccine doses and another 2,5 million expected in September. 

These were purchased from the Covid-19 purse set aside by the Treasury. Another 943 200 doses are expected to be delivered under the COVAX programme.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care is also expected to roll out strategies to ensure the vaccination roll out continues on the positive trajectory.

These will include expanding the engagement of the private sector, involving churches, universities and other institutions of higher learning as well as accelerating outreach campaigns taking advantage of the Integrated Expanded Programme for Immunisation.