By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent
DEPUTY Health Minister John Mangwiro has revealed that health ministry officials are grappling with a high turnout of Zambian citizens flocking to Chirundu Town to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Zimbabwean citizens resident or working in the neighbouring country, were also flocking to the border town, situated northwest of Zimbabwe.
The transit population from Zambia, Mangwiro told NewZimbabwe.com this week, was, however, posing a challenge to local health authorities to quantify the actual demand for vaccines in order to achieve the targeted number of people to be inoculated in the area.
The government is working on achieving herd immunity in the country, especially in border towns and districts.
“The problem is that there are transit populations that are moving into Zimbabwe, out of Zambia sometimes as Zimbabweans, who are getting vaccinated,” said Mangwiro.
However, it was unclear whether the government was selling its vaccines to the Zambian “vaccine tourists”.
However, early this year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the vaccines would be free for Zimbabweans, but foreigners would pay.
“Zimbabweans will get the vaccine for free, but for foreigners who come here, they will receive the vaccine at a cost,” he said.
One businessman, Grant Evans said early this year that he decided to bring over his extended family living in South Africa but not yet eligible for Covid-19 vaccine to get vaccinated in Zimbabwe.
“The Covid-19 vaccine rollout is slow in SA, and my extended family in Cape Town needed to get vaccinated. We made a decision to bring them to Zimbabwe to get vaccinated. The private clinics in Zimbabwe are charging foreign nationals $70 for both jabs, we are happy to pay and it sounds reasonable,” said Evans.
However, the Deputy Health Minister said an estimated 80% of permanent residents in Chirundu had received vaccine doses against the deadly respiratory disease.
The border town is facing serious threats as Zambia has experienced far worse infections and deaths that Zimbabwe over the past month.
Mangwiro also hailed Chirundu inhabitants for heeding the government’s calls for everyone to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
“At Chirundu, in terms of vaccination, there have been awareness campaigns and their population, though small of about 4 000 meaning their eligible population, for now, is about 1 500 thereabouts.
“They have vaccinated about 80% of the eligible population. Vaccines are there and we encourage everyone to be vaccinated. If you look at Victoria Falls, where vaccination was done in a blitz, within a week or two, they vaccinated more than 20 000 people, the number of cases of positivity or sickness or death in Victoria Falls is low and the same goes for Plumtree.”
Mashonaland West province a fortnight ago received another batch of 100 000 vaccine doses as demand for the life-saving medicines increases.
The Deputy Health Minister is on a whirlwind tour of provinces to ramp up support and coverage for Covid-19 vaccination.
Late last month, it was reported that a good number of South Africans were flying to Zimbabwe to get innoculated.