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Zimbabwean vaccination drive enters new territory

Dr John Mangwiro
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THE delivery of a shipment of two million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from China this week will herald the beginning of a massive nationwide immunisation blitz targeting the inoculation of hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans over the next few weeks.

After receiving a consignment of 500  000 vaccine doses on Thursday last week, Zimbabwe will take delivery of its biggest shipment of vaccines yet. Orders for millions of additional doses are being finalised, as the country gears for an extensive vaccination blitzkrieg that is expected to turn the tide against rising infections.

The government wants to vaccinate up to 50  000 people daily over the next few weeks under the drive.

This comes as the private sector through its Business Preparedness Prevention and Response Initiative (BPPRI), being coordinated by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), is preparing to procure an additional one million vaccines.

Vaccines procured under the initiative will be used to inoculate workers and their families, with industry keen to avoid further closures and restrictions to their operations. The new consignment of vaccines, which arrives in Harare on Thursday, will be immediately deployed systematically to immunisation centres countrywide targeting areas where infections have been rising.

Last week, authorities quickly deployed doses from the most recent shipment to centres countrywide, a development that improved the availability of first doses at most vaccination sites. Vaccine stock-outs at some centres, in recent weeks, had led to a dramatic slowing down of the national vaccination programme.

Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro told our Harare Bureau that the incoming consignment of two million doses will herald the start of a massive national vaccination drive. He said vaccines already in the country were being distributed to Covid-19 hotspots.

“We will embark on a blitz to vaccinate more people over the next few weeks. We have already started distributing part of the recent consignment that was delivered last week to hotspots areas around the country so that everyone is vaccinated. People operating at marketplaces, tobacco auction floors and cotton sales floors will be vaccinated including those in border towns. These areas are considered hotspots areas.”

Dr Mangwiro said the country’s vaccination programme was fairly robust and well-run.

CZI chief executive officer, Ms Sekai Kuvarika, said business will procure its vaccines through Government.

“We have a commitment from the private sector to procure one million vaccines and so far we have placed an order for 200 000 vaccines and we have received about 14 000 so far from that order. In the meantime, we have just received an update that our order is being processed now and we will resume the CIMAS-manned vaccination programme as soon as possible. We expect the programme to pick up momentum in the coming weeks.”

She said the initiative’s objective was to vaccinate employees and their families as well as contribute vaccines to the public vaccination programme led by Government. Three separate orders of 1,5 million doses are expected next month and in September. By September, 8,76 million vaccine doses will have been delivered, enough to fully inoculate 4,38 million people. So far Zimbabwe has received commercial orders totalling 1,7 million doses and 560 000 vaccines as gifts. As at Friday, 788 104 people had received the first dose of the vaccine while 564 714 had received the second dose. Zimbabwe is currently battling a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic. – Sunday News