Public health experts in Bulawayo have raised concern over the slow uptake of the Covid-19 booster shot in the city.
Only 6.5 percent of those have received their third dose.
48 percent of the city’s population has been fully vaccinated with at least while 61 percent have received the first dose.
“For now, we are trying to increase the numbers of vaccination to reach the recommended 60 percent herd immunity. The booster is given to those who received two shots of the vaccine prior. The second dose of the vaccine must have been done six months before for one to come for the booster shot. But the booster numbers are very low,” said Dr Eliah Sigauke from the BCC during a Twitter Space hosted by CITE on Thursday.
“We started the vaccination well when we administered the first and second doses but the booster numbers are very low. As for now, the numbers of people who have booster shots are not even above 10 percent as we are at 6.5 percent. We encourage people to come forward for the booster shots because we are heading into the winter season and they are prone to catching flu.”
Dr Sigauke said although a “good” 61 percent of Bulawayo residents had taken their first dose, those who were considered fully vaccinated are people with both shots.
“We encourage you to go and complete the vaccination. We are at 48 percent for the fully vaccinated and sadly for the booster we are 6.5 percent,” he noted.
“We had a campaign running from May 2 to 17, 2022 to encourage those who are not to be vaccinated and we were targeting young people. The target is 60 percent herd immunity so that we protect the community from severe cases of Covid-19 and that it does not spread rapidly when a wave occurs.”
The medical doctor also encouraged pregnant women to be vaccinated, as they were vulnerable to Covid-19.
“We have evidence that there are no problems and pregnant women can be vaccinated. As we speak, we vaccinated many women and numbers are showing there are not much or any side effects we have heard from these women,” Dr Sigauke.
“A pregnant woman’s immune system is affected and not as effective as that of a non-pregnant woman. So, if a pregnant woman is infected by Covid-19, which does not choose if one is pregnant or not, can have severe illness and die. But when vaccinated, the sickness can be mild to moderate and not reach a state where the woman can die. If vaccinated, you are safer and have better chances of defeating Covid-19.”
Dr Sigauke also urged parents and guardians to vaccinate their children who had reached 12 years.
“The age limit was reduced to 12 as it used to be 17. If you observe places like football matches are saying they want children from 12 years and above who are vaccinated for them to attend gatherings. Very soon, at the border, it will be a requirement for children to be vaccinated for them to cross. The earlier you do it, the better and you might see that schools may end up saying vaccinated children will be the ones allowed to do certain activities like sport or go for school trips,” he said.
Meanwhile, those who want to activate their vaccination cards can go to any of the 19 council clinics, the Provincial Medical Director’s office at Mhlahlandlela Building, Tower Block office 205 and Ingutsheni, Mpilo, UBH, Ekusileni, Mater Dei hospitals.
“This is done from 8.30 to 12.30. Those with old cards can also change their card and be given those with QR codes. The QR codes won’t work automatically so they need to be activated. Places like borders and airports can scan the codes to show dates you were vaccinated and which type of vaccines you received,” Dr Siguake said.