Pharmacists are now being trained to join the Covid-19 national vaccination programme and boost the number of points where people can get their jabs.
The Retail Pharmacists Association yesterday said it had started training pharmacists from all over the country at the Harare Institute of Public Health ahead of seeking permission from the Government.
Once trained and the programme approved, the pharmacists will be allowed to vaccinate people at their pharmacies.
Over 800 accredited pharmacists are expected to receive training eventually under the programme, which — if approved — will be a huge boost to the Government-led inoculation drive.
Speaking during the training programme, association secretary Mr Luckmore Bunu said Covid -19 vaccines could soon be available at accredited pharmacies.
“We have taken note and taken heed of the call by Government, through the Ministry of Health and Child Care to expand the vaccination programme to the private sector,” said Mr Bunu.
“As such, we are training pharmacists here today at the Harare Institute of Public Health so that they will be able to vaccinate people in the various community pharmacies that are around the country.
“In the near future, citizens will be able to get vaccines at their nearest accredited pharmacy after the pharmacists have undergone the training which we are offering.”
He said pharmacies would be expected to charge a nominal fee for administering the vaccine, but the vaccine itself would remain free.
Last month, the Government expanded the national vaccination programme to private health institutions in order to quicken the pace of vaccination.
The programme, which began in February, started in public sector hospitals and clinics although medical aid societies were allowed to offer their premises.
Said Mr Bunu: “According to the memo written by the Health Permanent Secretary (Dr Jasper Chimedza), a small fee will be paid when people access the vaccines from private pharmacies.
“From the memo, we understand that an administration fee of $400 will be charged at private pharmacies.”
Mr Ngoni Kurebgwaseka, a Mutare-based pharmacist who received the training yesterday said private pharmacies had a massive presence in communities.
“As pharmacists, we are at the forefront of primary healthcare delivery,” he said.“We have noticed what is happening the world over where pharmacies are at the forefront of administering vaccines.
“In some countries, pharmacies have administered more vaccines than public health institutions simply because they are present in the community and they have the manpower.”
Over 2 million Zimbabweans have so far had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, with 1,2 million now fully vaccinated with both, and with more than 3,2 million doses now administered.