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Mass vaccination for Bulawayo vendors

by Staff reporter
06 Jul 2021 at 10:28hrs | Views
BULAWAYO will today embark on a mass vaccination exercise targeting the informal sector which will see 15 000 people from hotspot areas being inoculated in the next 10 days.

The province is targeting to vaccinate at least 400 000 residents to achieve herd immunity amid soaring cases and deaths which have been experienced over the past few days.

Bulawayo and Harare are at the highest risk of a debilitating third wave of Covid-19 infections in the country amid reports that the country's seven-day rolling average for infections has shot up from 13 to 900 per day in two weeks.

According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, the two provinces have the highest Incidence Risk assessment based on recorded trends of infections.

The assessment measures the number of likely infections per 100 000 people.

The bigger the number the higher the chances that infections could spread faster if positive behaviour change to follow Covid-19 prevention measures like staying at home, masking up and sanitising hands frequently are not adopted.

Matabeleland South leads the country's rural provinces Incidence Risk index.

Bulawayo and Matabeleland South, due to their proximity to South Africa, which has been recording the highest daily infections and deaths since the pandemic broke out on the continent early last year, have added risk.

As of July 4, 2021, Zimbabwe had 54 474 confirmed cases, including 40 239 recoveries and 1 878 deaths. To date, a total of 793 077 people have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Bulawayo has 912 active cases.

On Sunday, more than 50 people tested positive to Covid-19 at the Bulawayo Polytechnic.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Care show that Bulawayo has the highest Incidence Risk of 906, almost double that of Harare at 567 while Matabeleland South has 402.

"About 446 new confirmed Covid-19 cases and 120 deaths were reported from June 26 to July 2, 2021 giving a cumulative total of 52 663 cases and 1 841 deaths. The 120 deaths reported in the last seven days were from Bulawayo (27), Harare (25), Manicaland (24), Mashonaland Central (18), Mashonaland East (5), Mashonaland West (4), Midlands (3), Masvingo and Matabeleland North reported 2 deaths each," read a report from the Ministry.

Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube said the city is ready to roll out the mass vaccination programme.

"We received 15 000 doses today and we would be expecting second doses soon. We are targeting informal traders in the next phase of the vaccination programme. Also, vendors seem to be interested in the vaccination exercise and approached our offices requesting to be included for the mass vaccination programme," said Minister Ncube.

She said the vendors assisted officials in identifying suitable spots for the mobile roll out programme.

Yesterday, health officials were still working on logistical programmes for the massive vaccination programme.

The province submitted a bill of quantities to the Ministry of Health and Child Care stating its vaccination demands in preparation of the mass vaccination programme.

Areas such as Renkini Bus Terminus and market places have been earmarked for mass vaccination.

Bulawayo City Council health services director Dr Edwin Sibanda said the city can achieve herd immunity if 330 000 residents get vaccinated as 70 000 residents have been inoculated.

"First and foremost, for us to get herd immunity in Bulawayo we need upwards of 400 000 people to be vaccinated, based on the assumption that our population is slightly over 600 000. We need 400 000 people to be vaccinated for us to achieve 60 percent herd immunity. But if the population is higher, we expect the figures to be increased for the vaccinated population," said Dr Sibanda.

"The number of people who have been vaccinated is hovering around 70 000 at the moment. We are targeting 400 000, so it means we need about 330 000 people to be vaccinated. We may be targeting them in small groups, we are targeting vendors, health care workers and any other groups."

He said when the mass vaccination programme commences, it will be prudent for all the eligible residents to participate.

Dr Sibanda said the spike in Covid-19 cases has also caused an increase in Covid-19 vaccination appetite.

"There is a stampede for vaccines. You can go to the Central Hospitals three of them (Mpilo Central Hospital, Ingutsheni Central Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals) and have a look for yourself. We have had stories of people coming as early as 4AM to get vaccinated at some of the central hospitals," said Dr Sibanda.

"In the last two weeks, vaccines have been available at three central hospitals and this is obviously not favourable for people especially in high density areas and some of them have been going there in the wee hours of the morning."

He said the city is prepared for the mass vaccination programme once directed by the health ministry.

"First and foremost, we decide the distribution of teams based on two things, the number of doses that we have at that particular time and the target group as well as any instructions that we may receive from the ministry. For example, in this particular case, the few vaccines that we had were basically at the central hospitals and there was nothing we could do about that," he said.

"If we are told to do mass vaccination of people outside there, we have a strategy of doing so. All our clinics, 19 of them become vaccination points and they are distributed fairly and evenly among the people in the high-density areas and they are within a walking distance also. We can have mobile teams targeting particular spots. That we will do when we get vaccines with certain instructions from the Ministry that we vaccinate people in their numbers."

Bulawayo acting provincial medical director Dr Welcome Mlilo said health authorities were encouraged by the Covid-19 vaccination demand in the city.

"We implore the public to continue to be patient and partner the Ministry of Health and Child Care as we strive to reach our vaccination goal, which is achieving herd immunity. We also continue to engage members of the community who are still vaccine hesitant. We encourage everyone to take up the vaccine once you are presented with the opportunity to do so," said Dr Mlilo.

He urged residents to follow prevention measures as getting vaccinated does not shield one from contracting the virus, although its impact will be less severe.

Source - the herald