GWERU: “Dear people: In the next 14 days we need to give 120 000 first doses of COVID-19 vaccines. So, let’s all strive to give at least 50 first doses and above for and above for rural static facilities and at least 100 for static facilities in the city each day…” wrote the Midlands medical director’s office in a communique accessed by CommuTalk.
She even pleaded with nurses to try the door-to-door campaigns, a development that left many wondering whether the vaccination program was still voluntary or forced.
To confirm that pressure was coming from the top, the sixth post-cabinet briefing confirmed the commencement of the National Vaccination Blitz. The brief also confirmed receiving 22 405 000 doses with only 8 034 932 having been utilized to date.
It is to this effect that mobile teams of health workers have deployed across the country to administer the vaccines, children included, reinvigorating a faltering vaccination campaign.
Critics have condemned the move citing scientific evidence that children, who are not at risk from Covid, do not benefit from vaccination but remain at risk of side effects.
“This exercise has left us questioning whether we are being asked to force people into vaccination or not. If the program is voluntary, why not let people come willingly and prompt up their vaccination campaign material,” one nurse said.
The program threatens us as parents as we fear that our children will be vaccinated without our concerns. We are skeptical, to be honest as no vaccination information has been put out to convince us as yet,” added a concerned parent, Euncia Matsara.
As of March 18, just 3,580 people volunteered for the first jab of the two-dose vaccines being used in Zimbabwe. Fast forward a few days later, on March 24, and that number had shot up to 115,008 after the mandatory vaccination campaign was launched.
The campaign has lifted the number of people who have taken at least one dose to 44 percent, still short of the government’s missed target to vaccinate 60 percent of the population by Christmas last year, but a step – the officials say – to achieving supposed herd immunity.
Zimbabwe is gradually returning to its normal school calendar after two years of intermittent and sometimes prolonged closures due to waves of Covid-19 cases.
About 4.9 million of Zimbabwe’s population have received one jab, mostly of the Chinese Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. The government says it has enough vaccine doses, including for booster jabs, but uptake has slowed.