THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is engaging 18 private health institutions to turn their facilities into vaccination centres as the province scales up the inoculation drive.
Yesterday, the city added five more vaccination points to the existing 22.
Since the city embarked on a mass vaccination drive for all residents last week, about 6 000 people are getting vaccinated daily and authorities are confident that Bulawayo could achieve herd immunity soon.
The city is targeting to vaccinate at least 400 000 residents to achieve herd immunity and has surpassed 100 000 on the first dose.
All 19 BCC clinics and central hospitals have been turned into vaccination centres and yesterday Bulawayo Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube said the city had added five more institutions for the mass vaccination programme.
He said the institutions are Ekusileni Medical Centre, CIMAS, MASCA, Zimdef building situated VIVAT and the Large City Hall.
Long queues have characterised most of the city’s vaccination centres as health centres struggle to cope with the increasing number of residents who want to be inoculated.
In an interview, Bulawayo health services director Dr Edwin Sibanda said apart from the new five vaccination centres, council is targeting to add 18.
He said the city is taking advantage of the latest Ministry of Health and Child Care circular that private practitioners can charge a nominal fee to inoculate members of the public.
The institutions can charge a nominal fee of injection by doctor of $434,35 and a jab by a nurse at $220,64.
“We are in the process of adding a further 18 private practitioners with whom we have been working in other vaccination programmes, especially children vaccination.
We will start with them and other practitioners who have capacity should come forward,” said Dr Sibanda.
“Remember there is a circular from the Ministry that these people can now charge a small administration fee.
So, we might find a few other guys without capacity coming forward requesting to be part of the vaccination centres. We will only allow those that have capacity.
As a starting point we are targeting the 18 that we have worked with previously on other vaccination programmes.”
He said that some of the institutions that were named for the new vaccination centres, started inoculating residents last week.
“Those ones have already started working. VIVAT started on Monday and CIMAS started last week.
CIMAS vaccinates about 150 per day and VIVAT under Bonvie Medical Aid situated at ZIMDEF Building vaccinates up to 200 people.
Currently they are vaccinating for free but even CIMAS and VIVAT can start charging after that circular but have been vaccinating for free,” he said.
Dr Sibanda said the city is opening new vaccination centres to decongest available centres amid concern that most of the available centres are situated within the central business district.
“This will be a relief but there is still a challenge. These centres that we have opened are still within the city centre but people out there in residential areas have fewer of these centres.
So, we would want more of the practitioners in high density areas who have capacity to join the vaccination drive to make sure the vaccines are nearer to the people,” said Dr Sibanda.
He said the province was satisfied with its vaccination drive as it is administering at least 6000 doses per day since rolling our mass vaccination.
Dr Sibanda said if there are no glitches the city could reach herd immunity in the next three months.
Dr Sibanda however, said shortage of health officials at council clinics was stalling the city’s vaccination drive.
The country has scaled up the Covid-19 vaccination drive and a delivery of 1,5 million more doses is expected this week.
This comes at a time when Covid-19 cases and deaths continue to surge, resulting in Government decongesting workplaces to minimise the risk of new infections.
The country is targeting to vaccinate 10 million citizens for it to achieve herd immunity.
Attaining herd immunity would propel the country’s return to normalcy.
The private sector is lobbying for mandatory vaccination of citizens as this will save lives while minimising economic disruptions due to intensified lockdowns.