SENIOR STAFF WRITER
THE government is confident that more people will take up the available coronavirus vaccines going forward, after authorities increased the number of vaccination centres countrywide.
This comes after Zimbabwe received a further 400 000 Covid-19 vaccines from China earlier this week, as the government ramps up its vaccination programme.
Speaking to the media yesterday after taking his second Covid-19 jab, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga — who is also the country’s Health minister — said authorities were confident that more people would get vaccinated after increasing inoculation centres.
So far, about 40 000 people — mainly frontline workers — had been vaccinated, against an initial target of 150 000, and amid indications that the uptake is rising.
“As you are aware, the uptake started at a slow pace, but it has since started picking up. There are a number of factors that saw the process being slowed.
“For instance, there were few stations for the vaccinations … our staff was also learning the ropes of this whole exercise.
“We were also educating our people. Last time when I came (for the jab), it took us 15 to 30 minutes, but today it was just a matter of a minute or two and we were done.
“So, we are definitely going to speed up things. We are also increasing our staff for the vaccination, as well as the centres too,” Chiwenga said.
“We are engaging medical staff from the uniformed forces … local authorities … and our retired medical staff.
“We are calling them back because if we are to achieve the 60 percent herd immunity we have to do it faster and we have to have enough manpower on the ground,” he said further.
Chiwenga also said the government had stepped up its awareness campaigns on the effectiveness of the Chinese vaccines in fighting Covid-19.
“We need people to understand. The business of going to social media and listening to people who are only interested in arguments does not help because what is important is for one to safeguard his or her own life.
“At the same time, we continue to educate our populace so that they understand. If you have been following what’s happening around the globe, people are now saying one cannot travel without being vaccinated.
“Some are calling it a green passport … We are now getting to a point where if you want to go and join others in a pub or restaurant you must produce this passport.
“It’s not just that you are getting vaccinated to protect yourself alone, it’s also for your family and colleagues as well,” Chiwenga also said.
Zimbabwe has since February received 600 000 doses of coronavirus vaccines from China, as the country ramps up its programme to get the lethal respiratory disease under control.
The government is also expected to receive more jabs from China, Russia, the United Kingdom, India and the African Union (AU) — under the World Health Organisation-led Covax programme.
Authorities plan to vaccinate 10 million people by the end of this year.