Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
ZIMBABWE’s Covid-19 vaccination programme is on course to achieve new World Health Organisation’s (WHO) target of having countries vaccinating at least 10 percent of their population by September.
WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently urged countries to ensure that 10 percent of their population has received vaccination against Covid-19 by September. Dr Ghebreyesus called for a “massive push to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of the population of every country by September.”
Latest statistics compiled from official sources by open data portal Our World in Data show that, as of 3 June, 4,6 percent of Zimbabwe’s population had been vaccinated against Covid-19, giving the country the fifth-highest inoculation rate in the Southern African region, behind Seychelles leading the continent with 71,64 percent, followed by Mauritius at 18,3 percent, Equatorial Guinea, 10,55 percent and Comoros, with 4,96 percent.
Heath and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro told Sunday News that while the country would take note of the new WHO targets, the Government was still pushing for the 70 percent herd immunity.
“As a country, our focus is the herd immunity, we are looking beyond that September target set by the WHO. If you note the figures, as a country we are doing well, as we are among the countries with the most people vaccinating in the African continent. We, however, continue to call on people to heed President Mnangagwa’s words in encouraging them to go get their jabs so that we reach this herd immunity,” said Dr Mangwiro.
On Friday, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that 685 564 people had got their first dose with 370 674 having received their second dose.
Meanwhile, the Bulawayo City Council recently had to get more Covid-19 vaccines from the Midlands as the demand for the jabs in the city continues to improve. According to the latest council report the Health Services Director, Dr Edwin Sibanda noted that there was a need to expedite infrastructure renovations at some of the isolation centres in the city.
Last month, President Mnangagwa officially opened an isolation centre at the United Bulawayo Hospitals in the city. However, it is the rehabilitation works at Ekusileni and Thorngrove hospitals that have hampered the city’s Covid-19 interventions.
“The city has inadequate material and human resources like oxygen canisters, flow metres, delivers tubes and masks or nasal prongs, antigen test kits, swabs, cartridges (for GeneXpert), reagents for the laboratory and vehicles. There is also a need for the provision of Intensive Care Unit facilities and staff capacitation on the management of severe cases. Further, local laboratories have to be capacitated to characterize pathogens,” reads the council report.
Dr Sibanda further reported that key drivers of Covid-19 transmission were still at play, like low-risk perception, failure to implement preventive measures like the wearing of masks, practising social distancing and hand washing.
“Social gatherings, parties, funerals, work places, institutions of education, water collection points and the transport industry is also inhibiting the fight against the pandemic. There is thus the need to scale up Risk Communication and Community Engagement and surveillance activities for example through community sensitisation to interrupt transmission and create demand for the vaccine uptake,” said Dr Sibanda.
It has also been revealed that about 21 000 residents from Bulawayo got vaccinated but did not receive their vaccination cards after they ran out, with the city only recently managing to get them for disbursement to those who get the jabs.
“Most of the residents were due for the second vaccine in May. By end of May the number of residents receiving the second dose increased. The supply chain of vaccines was not constant.
The city had to borrow from other provinces after it ran short of vaccines. Close to 21 000 residents had not yet received their vaccination cards, however, the vaccination cards are now available.The Town Clerk (Mr Christopher Dube) advised that the residents who were vaccinated without cards should now collect them and they should be given first preference,” reads the council report.
According to the report the local authority had managed to get 4 000 doses from the Midlands Provincial Medical Directorate to boost their dwindling supplies.
Speaking at the official opening of the Bulawayo Arts Festival last Thursday, President Mnangagwa revealed that the country was expecting more deliveries of the vaccines this month, further encouraging the public to go vaccinate.
“Covid-19 pandemic is still with us. I urge the nation to continue observing the World Health Organisation’s guidelines. We will soon be getting more vaccines this month. Bulawayo is set to host various international festivities in the coming few months so I encourage people to get vaccinated so the city reaches herd immunity,” said President Mnangangwa.
Meanwhile, our Harare Bureau reports that there no plans to reintroduce a fresh hard national lockdown to forestall the threat of a Covid-19 third wave and Government will focus on fine-tuning the national vaccination programme to hasten the attainment of herd immunity.
Authorities last week finalised a new vaccine redistribution strategy, which will see vaccine doses stored at centres where there is low uptake being redistributed to those where there is appetite for immunisation in order to inject fresh impetus into the vaccination drive.
Demand for vaccines has dramatically increased with the onset of the winter season and the recent granting of authorisation for emergency use of Sinopharm — one of the vaccines being used in the country — by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Zimbabwe is currently under Level Three of lockdown restrictions, which allows for relaxed movement, longer opening hours for businesses, including the informal sector and a less restrictive night curfew.
The country recorded 884 new cases of Covid-19 last month, while 146 cases have been recorded during the first week of June.
Posting on microblogging website, Twitter, yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services secretary, Mr Nick Mangwana, said reports circulating on social media that Government intends to announce a new lockdown were false. He urged the public to remain vigilant and take preventative measures.
“We have been made aware of circulating messages claiming that there is an impending lockdown. There are no such current plans. Let’s remain cautious and take all protective measures, get vaccinated and encourage each other to do the same.”
Chief Co-ordinator of the National Response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Agnes Mahomva, told our Harare Bureu that a new batch of vaccines that have been procured by Government will be delivered imminently.