BY RICHARD MUPONDE
GOVERNMENT has threatened to withhold COVID-19 insurance payouts to its frontline workers who are not vaccinated before July 14.
Last year, government said it would take care of civil servants who contracted COVID-19 while in the line of duty and give them up to six months’ sick leave on full pay.
It also pledged to pay medical bills for frontline health staff.
In a tweet yesterday, the Information and Publicity ministry announced the current position saying this was approved by Cabinet.
“Noting that frontline staff has not been presenting themselves for vaccination, July 14 has been set as the deadline for the vaccination of frontline workers. After this date, those not vaccinated will not receive COVID-19 insurance payout,” the ministry tweeted.
Since February, when the country launched the Sinopharm vaccination programme, frontline workers have been hesitant to take up the jab, especially health workers, including doctors and nurses sceptical about its efficacy.
After the surge in COVID-19 cases, with threats posed by the Indian Delta variant, government is pushing for a mass vaccination programme to reach 60% herd immunity — or 10 million people.
Hesitancy had initially led to low vaccine uptake, and lately, shortages, but with the advent of the third wave, demand has increased.
By yesterday afternoon, 764 248 had received their first jab, and 534 906 their second.
The country received 500 000 doses of Sinopharm on Saturday and is expected to receive another batch of two million doses at the end of this week.
China has donated about 500 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to Zimbabwe since the launch of the vaccination programme, with 100 000 doses donated directly to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
The country also acquired 200 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine from the East Asian country and also received a donation of 35 000 doses of the Covaxin vaccine from India.
Russian firm Alrosa donated 25 000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine.
Government’s ultimatum comes two days after President Emmerson Mnangagwa hinted that COVID-19 vaccinations was now mandatory in the country.