Updated: Zim launches Covid-19 vaccinations
Harare (New Ziana) -Zimbabwe rolled out its Covid-19 vaccination campaign on Thursday, days after receiving its first consignment of vaccines from China.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the country’s Health and Child Care Minister, took the first jab of the Sinopharm vaccine, followed by Deputy Health and Child Care Minister John Mangwiro.
The initial phase of the vaccination campaign targets frontline workers such as doctors and nurses, and vulnerable groups.
On Monday, Zimbabwe received 200 000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines donated by the Chinese government, and expects 600 000 more from China, and others from Britain, India and Russia.
The inoculations are voluntary, and will shortly be extended to the entire country after Thursday’s launch of the vaccination programme in the capital.
Speaking after being inoculated, VP Chiwenga said countrywide vaccinations will begin next Monday after support staff had been tested.
“Today marks the launch of the vaccination programme that is set to achieve herd immunity of 10 million. The vaccine is going to all the provinces starting today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday). Countrywide vaccination will start on Monday,” he said.
He urged the public to come forward for vaccination, but still continue to follow other Covid-19 preventative measures such as wearing masks and social distancing.
Earlier, President Emmerson Mnangagwa assured the public the Chinese vaccine, which has been approved for use in several countries around the world, had been certified safe by local medical regulatory authorities.
This comes in the wake of scepticism of the vaccine’s safety on social media platforms.
VP Chiwenga said it was important for more people to come forward for vaccinations so that the country could quickly achieve herd immunity from Covid-19.
“I urge all Zimbabweans to be vaccinated at their nearest health centres. It is important because life can never be bought,” he said.
“When we have been vaccinated, its not the end; remember to sanitise, mask up and observe other measures,” he added.
VP Chiwenga said more Covid-19 vaccines were expected in the country shortly.
The acting matron of Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital, Violet Badze, also took the jab at Thursday’s launch, and expressed confidence in the vaccine.
“I am happy to be vaccinated; I am now protected since I work with many patients. The Covid-19 vaccine is just like any other vaccine I have received in the past,” she said.
The government is eager to arrest Covid-19 infections and deaths, particularly of the deadly South African strain of the pandemic which authorities admitted this week was prevalent in the country.
So far, the country has registered 1 418 deaths and 35 423 infections.