By Robert Tapfumaneyi
THE government has announced the Covid-19 national vaccination programme is voluntary, free of charge and will kick-off next week.
In a statement Friday, the health ministry said the first phase will target frontline workers who include all health workers, ports of entry personnel, funeral parlours and security forces.
“The vaccination programme begins next week after the country takes delivery of the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines from the People’s Republic of China where the government of Zimbabwe has purchased 600 000 on top of the 20 000 Sinopharm vaccine doses which were donated by the Government of China,” the ministry said.
“The Sinopharm vaccine, which has proved to be safe in clinical trials and has efficacy rate ranging from 76% to 86%, has already been used by other countries in controlling Covid-19.”
The ministry said it was training all health workers who will be involved in the vaccination programme.
“Actual administration of the vaccine will be done by trained staff at fixed and outreach points will be public hospitals, clinics, rural centres army hospitals, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services clinics, Zimbabwe Republic Police clinics and private hospitals and clinics.
“Policies, guidelines and systems for the management of the Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) are already in place and our health workers will be on high alert to identify, report and manage any if they occur.
“Sensitisation of frontline workers has already begun for them to take up the vaccine to protect themselves,” the ministry said.
It added the vaccination distribution will flow from the central vaccine store in Harare to 10 provincial vaccine stores, 63 districts vaccines centres before reaching 1 800 service health facilities such as clinics and rural health centres spread across the country.
Since March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a total of 34 949 confirmed cases and 1 382 deaths.