Harare (New- Ziana) –Lack of awareness about the benefits of being vaccinated against Covid-19 and of receiving booster shots is preventing many people from going to receive the jabs, an expert has said.
Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said when the government relaxed some Covid-19 restrictions, the general public got the impression that the disease was no longer there, and therefore did not see the need to take booster shots.
Zimbabweans have been reluctant to be vaccinated, let alone to get the booster shot, raising government concern since it is racing to vaccinate at least 60 percent of the population to achieve head immunity.
As of Tuesday, the cumulative figure for people who have taken booster shots was 56 458 while about 22 percent of the population have been fully vaccinated, far short of the 60 percent that the government is chasing to attain head immunity.
“People have to know that vaccines are very much available and Covid is still out there and remains a threat to the nation,” said Rusike.
“If people are aware that in some countries like India, Pakistan and so forth, they are still losing as many as 100 000 daily from Covid- 19 related death, they would not be complacent.”
Rusike said there was need to engage communities as well as encourage them to actively participate in fighting the pandemic and to appreciate that it was not the responsibility for the government alone.
The government has since moved to make it even easier to get the needed shots by deploying teams into city and town centres and places where people gather for social services.
Setting an example to highlight both the importance and safety of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, President Mnangagwa and several Cabinet ministers received their booster Covid-19
vaccine shots early this year.
The World Health Organisation urges the fully vaccinated to take booster shots to restore vaccine effectiveness, while health workers who are at the biggest risk of being infected are urged to step up for the shots.
When the vaccination program kicked off in February 2021, President Mnangagwa and his deputy, retired General Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care, volunteered to be vaccinated before television cameras to show that the vaccines were safe, the process was simple, pain free and that everyone needed to follow.
“People think that l already got two jabs I am protected. What people do not know is that we may also experience other waves or variants that may also be even harsher than the current Omicron, so we really want to encourage Zimbabweans to get the booster jab so that they get the extra protection in case of another variant coming which means they will be having adequate protection,” said Rusike.
“The government has played its part by bringing the vaccines, making them very much available and continuing to bring them almost every week,” he said.
Rusike said his organisation was playing its part to encourage people to get vaccinated and to get booster shots through training village health workers, school health coordinators, rank marshals at bus termini as well as vendors so that they can spread the message.
“We have also been working with community radio stations doing weekly radio programs to make sure the message gets to the people about vaccination and booster shots,” he said.