Vaccination shoots up

16 May, 2022 - 00:05 0 Views
Vaccination shoots up Artisanal miners get Covid-19 jabs in Penhalonga near Mutare recently. — Picture: Mukudzei Chingwere

The Herald

Herald Reporter

Zimbabwe passed a pair of milestones in its Covid-19 vaccination programme last week when the total number of first doses rose over 6 million and out of those more than 4 million had returned for a second dose and full vaccination.

But the infection rates have been edging up over the last week, with the rolling average going over 100 new daily infections on Wednesday, the same day the number of active cases climbed over 1000, both jumps after around a month of exceptionally low new infections.

By Friday, when the number of new infections recorded on that day hit 188, the highest since March 26, the seven-day rolling average had climbed to 131 with the number of deaths in that week to Friday climbing to nine.

A major outbreak in South Africa appeared to be missing Zimbabwe, but some of the breakers have surfaced, although the insistence on full vacation for travellers has as expected provided very strong controls.

We are not yet at the level where a warning of a fifth wave has to be sounded, but the rise is of concern and people need to not just ensure they are vaccinated but wear masks in public and watch crowding. Some people have become a bit slack.

Medical experts reckon that having your jabs, masking up and being careful about social distancing drastically reduces the chances of infection, with the vaccination usually strongly moderating the severity of symptoms if you unfortunate enough to be infected.

Vaccinations, after a strong fall during the school and Easter holidays, started rising fast again towards the end of the first week of the new school term with the number of daily shots returning to more than 100 000 a day over three days last week.

This saw the number of Zimbabweans with their first shot hitting 6 million on Thursday and ending the week on Friday with 6 026 533, and that is now 53,62 percent of the population aged 12 and over with comfortably more than half the eligible population of Zimbabweans now in the national vaccination programme.

The same blitz saw the number of second doses increase dramatically as a good slice of those who received their first shot before schools closed last term being lined up for their second dose when they re-opened, and we now have 4 142 808 fully protected Zimbabweans, the 4 million milestone being hit on Wednesday last week. This means well over a third, 36,86 percent, of the eligible age groups are double jabbed.

Booster shots are also going well with the totals hitting the 700 000 milestone on Friday with the total reaching 703 640. That is 6,26 percent of the eligible age groups. While people only need to wait a month after their first shot before getting the second, they then have to wait another six months at least before lining up for the booster but the enthusiasts for vaccination who got both shots before November last year are still coming forward in good numbers.

Zimbabwe has now used 10 872 981 doses for all three groups but still has plenty in stock and has efficient supply chains in place when needing more stocks. The Government is finding the cash needed to buy vaccines and Zimbabwe, with an effective programme in place, gets a slice of aid as well.

As usual, Bulawayo the other two Matabeleland provinces and Manicaland lead the vaccination pack and Harare, and especially Chitungwiza, are at the bottom by most measures despite having so many hospitals and clinics within walking distance for most residents.

On first doses the top four provinces are now all over 60 percent of the eligible age groups with Matabeleland North on 66,5 percent, Manicaland on 64,6 percent, Bulawayo on 62,3 percent and Matabeleland South on 61,3 percent. Three other provinces are over the halfway mark, with Midlands on 53 percent and Masvingo on 52,8 percent and Mashonaland Central on 51,2 percent.

Mashonaland East on 49 percent and Mashonaland West on 48,6 percent are seeing their percentages rising fast as teams move into remote rural areas.

But Harare is on 46,3 percent and Chitungwiza on 44,1 percent, the bottom two on the list.

On second doses Bulawayo has now gone over the half-way mark with 51,2 percent of the eligible population fully covered, closely followed by Matabeleland North on 46 percent, Matabeleland South on 44,7 percent and Manicaland on 43,6 percent. These four provinces are the four with more than 40 percent of their eligible population now fully vaccinated.

But the blitz drive last month for first doses in Midlands, Masvingo and the three rural Mashonaland provinces are seeing the percentages of second doses now rising fast as many finish their month of waiting. Harare on 34,5 percent is likely to be overtaken soon considering its first dose percentage, and Chitungwiza is definitely on the bottom with just 28 percent.

On third doses two provinces have gone over 10 percent, with Matabeleland North on 10,9 percent and Matabeleland South on 10,3 percent, followed by Manicaland on 8,2 percent and Bulawayo on 7,7 percent. Harare is on 4,9 percent, just pipping Mashonaland Central but no one else on 4,2 percent, and Chitungwiza as expected last on 3,4 percent. Combining Harare and Chitungwiza then Harare province is last.

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