Vaccine hesitancy blights Zim herd immunity target

Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) has noted that the government may fail to achieve its target of vaccinating 10 million citizens against Covid-19 by year end due to the slow uptake of the vaccination program by citizens.

In its latest report, ZDI focused on access to public health, interrogating the feasibility of Zimbabwe achieving Covid-19 herd immunity by December.

To date, 3 874 694 people have received their first dose while 2 884 045 have been fully vaccinated.

ZDI said the attainment of Covid-19 herd immunity in Zimbabwe finds itself in a precarious situation given that the country is now less than a month away from the end of the year and only 3.73 million people have been vaccinated against a target of 10 million.

“The period under review was characterised by a steady growth in Covid-19 vaccination across the country. By 31 October 2021, the country had vaccinated over 3 million people against the pandemic. However, the increase in vaccinations still falls short of the set target of 60% herd immunity by the end of the year 2021,” read the report.

“By its own admission, the government through the Ministry of Health and Child Care revealed that Covid-19 Vaccination Roll Out and Deployment program had, as at 31 October 2021, reached a national coverage of 38% of the targeted population. The period between 31 October and 31 December (2 months) is realistically not enough to vaccinate the remaining 62% given that the actual vaccination rate of 38% was attained over a period between March and October (7 months).”

ZDI recommended that the government develops a clear plan on how it is going to utilise the remaining time, between now and end of 2021 to vaccinate the population in order to reach herd immunity.

The organisation also recommended that the government leads by example in religiously observing and following Covid-19 rules and regulations as stipulated under level 2 lockdown and to find long lasting solutions to address the issue of health care personnel remuneration.

“Civil Society should hold the government to account over its Covid-19 vaccination set targets (for example, 60% herd immunity by 2021) and must boost its advocacy role on the need to ensure access to health care services across rural areas in Zimbabwe. The media on the other hand must report on Covid-19 vaccination progress in relation to the set herd immunity target,” the report read.

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