Rumbidzayi Zinyuke and Faith Katete
Retired nurses are now being recruited to beef up vaccination teams to accelerate further the drive to vaccinate Zimbabweans against Covid-19.
Zimbabwe started vaccinations in February, reaching its first million jabs towards the end of May, the second million on July 22 and reaches the third million this week, but Government wants the rate speeded up further.
However, many vaccination centres, particularly council-run clinics have been failing to meet demand for the vaccination as their nurses were overwhelmed by the ordinary patient complaints as well as at the vaccination sites.
This resulted in some centres only administering a limited number of doses despite them being available and leaving a significant number of people stuck on how they could access the jabs since council clinics are generally within their area and are the easiest to access.
Health Services Board chairman Dr Paulinus Sikhosana said the board had a database of registered retired nurses and these were the ones being targeted for the current recruitment.
We want to accelerate the rate at which people are being vaccinated. At the moment, you find out that the nurse who is in the ward is the same nurse who is working at the vaccination table, so we want to lessen the burden on these nurses,” he said.
He said once the recruitment is done, most of the nurses, who are above 65 years, would be stationed at the vaccination points leaving the already available staff to attend to patients in the wards. This is meant to limit their exposure to Covid-19 in the wards.
Dr Sikhosana said the board would also recruit more retired tutors to increase the staff at the country’s nursing schools.
With more than 12 million vaccine doses already bought, and more than half delivered, Government is pushing hard to get as many people as possible protected.
Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro yesterday said the procurement of vaccines needed to be matched by the pace at which they were being rolled out hence the recruitment of more nurses.
With the supply chain now in place more Zimbabweans can be vaccinated each day.
“So far, we have distributed 5,3 million vaccine doses and we have another 1,5 million doses in stock. We are also expecting 1,5 million jabs in the next two weeks and these deliveries will continue until we have received the 12 million doses that have been paid for.
“So the nurses that we are recruiting will definitely help us to push volumes so that we can reach our target,” he said.
He said the recruitment of more nurses meant vaccination centres had dedicated staff that would contribute towards increasing volumes and attainment of herd immunity by year end.
“The vaccine doses we have are both first and second doses so we will not have any breaks in the vaccination process as there will be enough for everyone.
“With additional staff, the vaccination drive will be much improved for us to remain on course to reach the targeted herd immunity,” said Dr Mangwiro.
By Tuesday, a total of 1 912 592 first doses had been administered while 1 061 238 people had received the second jab.