Some teachers in Harare yesterday received the COVID-19 vaccine doses as Zimbabwe began implementing its second phase of the vaccination rollout programme.
While the first phase targeted frontline workers, authorities say the second phase targets the elderly, those with chronic conditions, teachers, tobacco merchants, workers in the hospitality industry, the religious sector and others.
The second phase follows the receipt of 400 000 more COVID-19 vaccines from China on Tuesday bringing the total number of doses received so far to 600 000.
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The Ministry of Health and Child Care which intends to vaccinate at least 10 million people to achieve herd immunity is not yet satisfied with the number of people who have been vaccinated so far.
Meanwhile, Health Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro is optimistic the vaccination programme would pick-up pace as more people from other sectors come forward. He said:
We are now expanding from frontline workers to include teachers, those in churches, people who crowd in any area will be approached so that they get vaccinated.
We want to protect everyone including those with ailments like asthma, diabetes and cancer. Our staff has become used to the system and the process will be faster as people are now aware of the importance of vaccination.
The knowledge about the disease and safety of the vaccine is increasing and people are getting more confident and we are sure people will realise the importance of protecting themselves and each other from the disease. It is the duty of every Zimbabwean to protect each other from this disaster.
Low uptake can also be attributed to fear surrounding the vaccines. Some members of the public have clearly indicated that they are afraid of taking the vaccines whose efficacy was not yet known.
Conspiracy theories surrounding the vaccines might also have scared off some individuals.
The government and its stakeholders including the World Health Organisation (WHO) have embarked on an awareness campaign to debunk the conspiracy theory and also educate the citizenry on the advantages and disadvantages of taking the vaccines.
More: The Herald