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Subdued Covid-19 vaccine uptake worries Zimbabwe doctors

by Staff reporter
11 Mar 2021 at 06:45hrs | Views
Zimbabwean doctors have expressed concern over the subdued uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine as frontline workers continue to shun the Chinese Sinopharm jab, the only one currently in use.

Many people, including healthcare personnel, have questioned the safety and efficacy of the vaccine despite assurances by the government.

"[Only] 243 new vaccinations reported yesterday [Tuesday]. That's an average of 24 people being vaccinated per day per each province," said Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) treasurer-general Norman Matara.

"35,000 vaccinated in 3 weeks. The uptake is extremely low and worrying. Rwanda has vaccinated 200,000 people in four days. Where are we getting it wrong?"

Zimbabwe rolled out its immunisation programme some three weeks ago after receiving a donation of 200,000 Sinopharm vaccine doses from China.

The government, which aims to vaccinate 10 million people to achieve herd immunity, is awaiting more doses from the Chinese plus an allocation of the AstraZeneca vaccine under the global COVAX scheme.

But Matara worried the sluggish pace of vaccination and the apparent failure by government to galvanize a positive response leaves the country vulnerable to the respiratory disease that has since killed 1,489 Zimbabweans and infected 36,341 others.

"Vaccines are meant to be given to those who have not yet acquired the disease. That we had fewer cases compared to other countries should be a reason for vaccination not against," Matara reasoned.

"With limited access to vaccine supply, it would be unwise to give the vaccines to low-risk individuals and not vaccinate those at more risk. I think we still need to devise ways to increase uptake amongst the vulnerable."

A study by the Zimbabwe College of Public Health Physicians (ZCPHP) found that 49 percent of people "don't trust the government will provide a safe and effective vaccine," Matara said, shedding light on why most people are holding off.

Source - zimlive