Bulawayo is closer to achieving herd immunity against Covid-19, a council official has stated.
Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely.
City Health Department director, Dr Edwin Sibanda, during an interview on the Breakfast Club show on Asakhe Online, commended Bulawayo residents for their positive response to the vaccination program against the virus.
To date, 295 645 people have received the first dose, amounting to 58,6 percent of the targeted population while 258 685 have received the second dose amounting to 51.3 percent and 7 390 have received their booster shots, amounting to 1.46 percent.
Dr Sibanda said Bulawayo is one of the few provinces in the country that has surpassed the 50 percent threshold of the targeted population.
He noted that most people got vaccinated at the peak of the third wave.
“Right now, Bulawayo is one of the few provinces that has surpassed 50 percent of the targeted population. Of course, the ideal is 60 percent but at least with such figures, our targeted number is not far from reaching,” Dr Sibanda said.
“The response to vaccination has been fair to good. During the third wave, we managed to vaccinate more people. We don’t know if it was the fear of dying or it was because people were seeing their loved ones dying.”
He noted that the figures could go up if more teenagers between the ages of 16 and 17 could get vaccinated.
Dr Sibanda said vaccinating this group has not been easy owing to various factors such as getting approval from their parents/guardians as well as fear of disrupting them during the examination period.
“Response from 16 and 17-year-olds has been lower than expected. This could be because the authority to vaccinate came late than the actual announcement. Also, if you’re under 18 you cannot consent to any procedure to be done. You need approval from your parent or guardian,” he said.
Dr Sibanda noted that the vaccination awareness program has been stalled due to the rainy season as gathering people and distributing people is difficult in the wet weather so they have resorted to radio announcements.
He, however, expressed concern over the number of deaths being recorded despite the significant decrease in the number of new cases.
“We think we are now at the tail end of the fourth wave. As Bulawayo, we were recording very high figures of about three to four hundred a day but now, we are down to single-digit figures. The only worrying thing is that the deaths have not decreased as fast as we would have liked and we do not why. You find that even when there are 4 cases you still record a death,” he said.
“At the peak of the fourth wave we would go as high as ten deaths but we would know it would be out of at least 200 cases and that would be an acceptable percentage but for now we do not know why the deaths have remained high.”
Dr Sibanda encouraged residents to get their booster shots, citing such would enable their immune systems to fight the virus when it mutates.
He explained that those who can get booster shots are those who have not suffered from Covid-19 in the past six months or those who got vaccinated more than six months ago.