Covid-19 vaccination now open to all eligible adults

Covid-19 vaccination in Zimbabwe has now been opened to the rest of the adult population, as the country strives to vaccinate at least 10 million citizens to achieve herd immunity.

The vaccination programme had been structured in phases with the first phase targeting frontline and health care workers.

Phase One, Stage 2 targeted community health workers, the elderly and those with chronic diseases and comorbidities such as Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and the prison populace.

Phase Two was targeting those at medium risk of Covid-19 such as lecturers, teachers, clergy, judiciary, security sector

Phase Three was meant to cover the rest of the population.

Now the official government position is that everyone who is eligible and above the age of 18 years can be vaccinated.

“On the low uptake of vaccines, we should do more on that as we try to achieve herd immunity. The confusion was that it wasn’t clear as to who are the target groups, or those special group who be should be vaccinated. Right now the official position is everyone has to be vaccinated so we need more awareness programmes to encourage people,” said Kwanele Hlabangana, a member of the inter-ministerial task force on Covid-19 at Bulawayo’s  Provincial Covid-19 Taskforce meeting Wednesday.

Hlabangana urged communities to spread this message and increase vaccination uptake.

“We must avoid this infodemic where people spread malicious damaging information from unverified sources.  I think awareness is needed so I appeal to journalists and other community members to encourage people to vaccinate,” he said.

Bulawayo Provincial Development Coordinator, Paul Nyoni, also pointed out that a few people knew vaccination was now open to the rest of the population.

“There was a concern in the province in terms of the communication of targeted groups in that I know everyone who wants to be vaccinated should go and be vaccinated. But the message that has gone to the public is to say, ‘these days we are only doing security services and education,’ which was how the original message was communicated. So there’s a need now to ramp up the message everyone should go and be vaccinated and get vaccinated,” he said.

Director of the City’s Health Services Department, Dr Edwin Sibanda urged the government to provide clear messaging in order to avoid inconsistency in vaccination messages.

“Unfortunately the ministry silently started telling anyone over 18 years can go and vaccinate. We have asked them to put this in writing such that should we run out of these doses then we know we were giving anyone. If some 18 years old with no other story is vaccinated but reacts to the vaccine,  we won’t be asked why did you vaccinate people who don’t fit a particular phase so we are still waiting for that communication from the ministry,” he said.

“Unfortunately some may have been turned away who did not fit the criteria of the particular phases, increased vaccinated sites.”

As of April 21, 2021, 7 402 people had received their first dose bringing the cumulative number for first vaccine dose takers to 295 631.

On the same day, 587 had also received their second dose taking number of fully vaccinated people to 37 365.

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