Rumbidzayi Zinyuke-Senior Health Reporter
Churches can now call on Government vaccination teams to vaccinate members against Covid-19 in an initiative meant to increase the pace of the programme.
Government last month relaxed Covid-19 restrictions to allow church gatherings for fully vaccinated worshippers.
The new move bringing vaccination teams to the church premises, codenamed Operation Marah, is expected to see more churches embracing the vaccination drive.
Speaking at the launch of the programme yesterday, Child and Health Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro said the acceptance of vaccination by almost all churches was a positive boost that would complement Government’s efforts to fight the pandemic.
He encouraged church leaders to continue educating and encouraging their members to be vaccinated for their safety and that of the nation.
“Government is happy that this partnership will drive the national programme and make sure that we attain herd immunity. Once we are vaccinated, our economy will open up full throttle.
“We want to continue emphasising the safety and necessity of the vaccination programme. That is important.
“Health experts and scientists have all agreed that vaccination is the silver bullet to Covid-19. But if you are vaccinated, it does not mean that you should stop wearing masks, washing your hands and maintaining social distance.
“That way we will surely defeat the pandemic. We should understand that this is a highly-transmissible disease and needs our collective efforts to stop it,” he said.
Under the scheme, outreach teams will be assigned when churches have arranged members to assemble at a suitable central point for vaccination.
He also asked church leaders to assign suitable people to help in capturing data so nurses could focus on vaccinations. Every dose given requires a modest amount of detail of the patient, but much of this is routine clerical work.
“You will have the option to have the mobile teams come to you or you can make arrangements with the health facility nearest to you to have all your members vaccinated there.
“However, we do not want to hear that people are selling the vaccination cards or the vaccines; we will not tolerate corruption in this exercise,” added Dr Mangwiro.
He reiterated that a second jab can be received in any town or area.
Zimbabwe Indigenous Inter-denominational Council of Churches chairman Apostle Andrew Wutawunashe said the church would always offer unequivocal support for the vaccination programme and called upon Zimbabweans to speedily take advantage of this free initiative to protect both themselves and others against the lethal virus.
“The churches appreciate the recent relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions to allow church meetings for vaccinated congregants. While the as yet modest numbers of twice-vaccinated people presented the challenge of low numbers of congregants able to attend church, we are heartened that ZIICC’s engagement with the Ministry of Health and Child Care has resulted today in the launch of Operation Marah.
“Not only does this joint initiative demonstrate Government’s goodwill in opening churches for vaccinated congregants, it also provides churches with the opportunity to literally within two to three weeks enable all church members are fully vaccinated and be free to attend church without posing a health threat to other congregants,” he said.
He said as a demonstration of the churches’ commitment to embracing the vaccination programme, bishops, pastors and leaders from several denominations had brought their congregants to be vaccinated.
He emphasised the need for other churches that are not under ZIICC to take advantage of Operation Marah and facilitate the speedy vaccination of their church members.
“Through this initiative, the church is sure to inspire the nation by becoming the first social microcosm in our nation to attain herd immunity. We have faith for the nation,” he said.