Mukudzei Chingwere and Farirai Machivenyika
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 recently.
While vaccine supplies are more than adequate for an accelerated programme and vaccination teams can handle several times the numbers coming forward in recent weeks, a lot of Zimbabweans have been putting off their shots.
But now the Government is making it even easier to get the needed shots by deploying teams into city and town centres and places where people gather for social services.
For booster shots, the World Health Organisation is on record urging the fully vaccinated to take the booster Covid-19 doses whose objective is to restore vaccine effectiveness, and health workers who are at the biggest risk of being infected are being urged to step up for the shots.
President Mnangagwa’s administration has prioritised the vaccination programme since it started. He and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care, volunteered to be vaccinated publicly before television cameras to show that the vaccines were safe, the vaccination process was simple, pain free and that everyone needed to follow.
Acting Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet and Presidential Spokesperson Mr George Charamba confirmed that the President had already received his booster shot and urged the generality of Zimbabweans to follow suit.
“I can confirm that His Excellency, the President, his Deputies and a host of Cabinet ministers who were not on holiday have received third doses and this is consistent with the opinion coming from our medical experts and of course in keeping with the practice worldwide,” he said.
“With the rise of new Covid-19 variants it has become important to reinforce our bodily defences, which is exactly what has inspired the position taken by the leadership. If you recall, we went for the initial phase of the vaccination and the leadership led on what we were supposed to do,” he said.
Staffers in the Office of the President and Cabinet also got their third jab yesterday and other senior Government officials are getting their third shots.
Added Mr Charamba: “So this is a demonstration to all Zimbabweans particularly to those that are still sceptical that it is important to get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe, is tested and is the only available panacea to the pandemic.
“So the message right now is, get vaccinated if you haven’t been and if you have, then get the booster jab so that you are safe, your family is safe as are your neighbours and by extension the nation.”
The President has encouraged Zimbabweans to get vaccinated saying the country had enough doses to cater for everyone and the vaccines are free.
The country has procured over 20 million doses of vaccines and has spent over US$140 million. Some doses are coming as donations particularly from China.
The country is experiencing a fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic driven by the Omicron variant that has resulted in a rise in infections and deaths.
President Mnangagwa has since extended the Level 2 lockdown by a further two weeks and deferred the reopening of schools although public examination candidates were required to write their scheduled papers.
Health Services Board (HSB) chair Dr Paulinas Sikhosana urged health workers to get the booster shots in order to boost their immunity against the virus.
“I have received my booster shot, and we urge health workers to be vaccinated as well. This is a proven scientific record against this virus.
“Those yet to be vaccinated should do so as it boosts their chances of fighting this virus if infected as well as boosting their immunity,” said Dr Sikhosana.
The Herald talked to some ordinary people in the streets who were getting their Covid-19 vaccines in central Harare and they welcomed the vaccination programme.
“This is convenient to get your vaccine here while we are doing our everyday businesses, unlike going to health facilities most of them out of town which requires bus fare to go there,” said a woman identified as Ms Manyika.
Most of those who were receiving the vaccines were particularly happy about the issue of convenience.