Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Reporter
ZIMBABWE will be among the first countries in the world to issue out Covid-19 certificates that will be linked to the person’s passport and National Identify Document.
The certificate will also be used when people are travelling in and out of the country and help in curbing the proliferation of fake Covid-19 certificates that were being used by some prospective travellers. Global debate has already started over the issue of Covid-19 vaccination certificates being used as “passports” and international airlines and stakeholders in the travel industry have thrown their support behind vaccine “passports”.
The director of Health Informatics and Data Analytics in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Simukai Zizhou, told Sunday News yesterday that the ministry has already completed the new vaccination certificate which will come in the form of a card with security features and a Quick Response bar code (QR code) which can be scanned for verification.
He said the ministry has developed the card to also curb the proliferation of fake vaccination certificates which were being produced by unscrupulous individuals. The certificates will start being issued this week.
“This new card will have security features which can then be easily scanned and verified. The ministry has all the records of people that have been vaccinated thus it will be simple for authorities to verify this, further it will be linked to the individual’s passports and identity documents which were captured during the exercise. The card will have a QR code which is now the international best practice in terms of verification of information. Further, this card will close the loophole of the fake certificates that were now in the market,” said Dr Zizhou.
He said those who have already taken the second dose can approach the ministry where they will be issued with the new cards.
“This new card will be available as from next (this) week as we are just addressing a few pending issues. However, for those that have already got their second dose and will require to travel to countries that require one to be vaccinated they can come to the ministry where they will then be issued with these new cards,” said Dr Zizhou.
Commenting on the same development, Bulawayo City Council Health Director, Dr Edwin Sibanda said council has been briefed on the issue and was waiting for guidance from the Government on how this will be implemented.
“Yes, we have also been made aware of this new arrangement, we are awaiting further direction from the ministry but what we have been doing thus far is capturing all those that have been vaccinated in our system for such verification,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bulawayo is preparing for the mass vaccination in the city which is expected to start this week after the arrival of more vaccine doses in the country with an initial 110 000 residents being targeted. Victoria Falls was the first city to embark on the mass vaccination which was launched by President Mnangagwa last week in the tourism city to boost confidence in the outside world about safety and health, a low-hanging fruit in the tourism industry. Dr Sibanda said they had already put in place all systems and deployed personnel that will be doing mass vaccination in the city.
“We are waiting for more vaccine doses from the Government. It is then that we can then say when the mass vaccination programme will begin in the city but it could be this week. In the meantime, we have put in place all the necessary systems for this programme, the various points have been identified, the teams have been set and are ready to start,” said Dr Sibanda.
Meanwhile, this week the city’s vaccination team will be vaccinating teachers in the province. Bulawayo provincial education director Mrs Olicah Kaira has sent a circular to schools informing them on the points of vaccinations. She said the programme will be targeted at all Government, private early childhood development centres, independent colleges, trust and private schools.
According to the circular, the vaccination teams will be at Milton High tomorrow for those from Bulawayo Central, on Tuesday they will be at Maranatha Primary for those from Imbizo District, on Wednesday they will be at Mpopoma High for Mzilikazi District and on Thursday they will end at Makeurtan Primary for Reigate District.
According to the Minister of Health and Child Care as of last Friday the country had 61 093 people who had taken their first dose of the vaccine, with 6 569 getting their second doses.