With adequate stocks of vaccine now available to accelerate the national programme, health authorities are giving maximum priority to areas where there are high levels of social contact to build the infection firebreaks as quickly as possible and protect those at the highest risk of infection.
Zimbabwe last week took delivery of two million Sinovac doses bought from China, and another 3,5 million doses are expected over the next few weeks.
Mobile Covid-19 vaccination teams are being created to speed up the national campaign and they will also be helping to identify those with chronic illnesses that are not being treated so that the vaccination is safe.
Health and Child Care Ministry spokesperson Mr Donald Mujiri has said priority will be given to places classified as high social contact areas.
“The rollout plan will prioritise border towns and cities, people’s markets such as Mbare Musika, Renkini (in Bulawayo) and Sakubva (market in Mutare), among others.”
He confirmed previous policy statements that hotspots, tobacco auction floors, GMB depots, cotton depots, colleges and universities will also be given very high priority.
So far from the latest shipment, the eight non-metropolitan provinces had each been given an initial allocation of 50 000 first doses, with Harare and Bulawayo metropolitan provinces where crowded areas are more intense and more common, each getting 100 000 first doses.
Mashonaland West Province, the hardest hit area and the initial area of the ongoing third wave, has received 90 000 first doses.
After receiving the largest single consignment last week, which took total deliveries to 4,26 million doses, almost all of Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines, another 1,5 million doses were expected this week, while another 2 million doses were expected around month end.
The high flow of vaccine orders has now put pressure on the logistics in the national vaccination programme to get the teams out and vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible.
On mobile vaccination teams, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro said: “We have set up teams which will be moving around the country especially in rural areas vaccinating people. We want to ensure that people have access to the vaccine.
“Also the teams will be moving around treating and issuing out tablets to those with chronic diseases such as blood pressure and sugar diabetes before they are vaccinated.”
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) president Mr Denford Mutashu said they appreciate efforts in accelerating the vaccination programme.
“As CZR, we urge our members to ensure that their employees are vaccinated to reduce the cycle of transmission and to save lives,” said Mr Mutashu in a statement.
“We also believe that the vaccination programme will also mitigate future business disruptions as many of our members cannot survive a total lockdown.
“We propose that the Government should consider mandatory vaccination for all essential services, intercity travellers and attendees of any public gatherings.”
Mr Mutashu said his organisation thanked the Government for declaring that traders at people’s markets such as Mbare and Renkini should be vaccinated due to the high number of people that visit those markets.
The measure will be necessary to curb the future spread of the virus and will save both the lives as well as traders’ future earnings.
“Once again, we would like to thank President Mnangagwa, Vice President and Health Minister Dr Constantino Chiwenga and Professor (Mthuli) Ncube for driving the vaccination programme.
“It is the duty of every Zimbabwean to adhere to the Covid-19 preventive measures – mask up, sanitise, practise social distancing and avoid unnecessary gatherings. Together we can defeat Covid-19.”