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Bulawayo vaccination centres overwhelmed

by Staff reporter
14 Jul 2021 at 08:25hrs | Views
COVID-19 vaccination centres in Bulawayo are overwhelmed as scores of residents continue to flock to local clinics to get inoculated under the ongoing mass vaccination programme which started on Monday.

Health personnel are failing to cope due to the pressure and yesterday some residents went back home without being vaccinated after being told to return the following day. The exercise is largely targeting all adults above the age of 18 years.

Since the first day of the exercise, people have been flooding the centres to get vaccinated. The designated sites include all 19 municipal clinics and central hospitals Ingutsheni, Mpilo Central Hospital and the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH). The metropolitan province is targeting to inoculate 400 000 residents to achieve herd immunity.

The country received two million doses of Sinovac vaccines last Thursday from China which saw Bulawayo and Harare receiving 100 000 doses each while eight other provinces got 50 000 doses each. Zimbabwe's free and voluntary vaccination programme aims to reach 10 million citizens to achieve herd immunity.

Bulawayo city health director Dr Edwin Sibanda said they were vaccinating limited numbers per day due to manpower shortage.

"We have a serious manpower shortage due to unfilled posts and the situation has been made worse because we have some nurses who have been infected by Covid-19. Others are on quarantine and we are struggling to manage and have since requested Government to assist by seconding uniformed forces," he said.

Dr Sibanda said so far 2 805 people have been vaccinated under the mass vaccination programme. He, however, said they were yet to know on whether the 100 000 doses they received would for people coming for both first and second doses.

In her post-Cabinet media briefing yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said in order to minimise the time spent in queues, extra personnel from security and defence forces have been harnessed so as to increase the numbers of personnel at the vaccination centres.

A news crew yesterday visited selected council clinics and observed people being turned away after exceeding the daily limit. In some cases, people could be seen standing in the queues. At Emakhandeni Clinic, some were standing outside the gate after they told by health authorities that they had reached the daily limit. The situation was the same at Nkulumane, Tshabalala and Nketa clinics.

At Nketa Clinic they were serving people in batches with 20 residents being attended to at a given time. At Pumula South Clinic, people were queuing since morning and by midday no one had attended to them.

"I came here in the morning at around 7AM and when they opened the gate, they only took 100 people and I was told to return tomorrow. It seems there is lack of manpower to handle the pressure which is why they are taking a limited number," said Ms Nozipho Mguni of Emakhandeni.

Ms Beauty Togarepi of Nketa urged health authorities to set up more centres.

"Looking at the manner in which the vaccination process is being conducted, it seems there is a shortage of manpower. We need more centres because we have people some from as far as Mbundane, Rangemore and Emganwini coming to Nketa Clinic resulted in congestion," she said.

Ms Audrey Sibindwane said: "We need more personnel to attend to us because as I speak, I woke up as early as 6AM and left my children alone. Some of the people here are on medication and they haven't eaten anything since morning." Ms Rose Mwalimu (74) of Pumula South said since Monday she has been going to the local clinic hoping to get vaccinated.

"They should establish more centres for vaccination. Can you imagine that some of us have since Monday been waking up as early as 5am and in the process risking being mugged? Today, they told me that they were only serving 100 people, which means I will to come back tomorrow," she said.

Mr Earnest Nyoni queues were exposing people to the virus.

"If we continue congesting these health facilities, people will be exposing themselves to the virus. We have a lot of people who are unemployed that can be engaged to assist during the programme," he said. A senior citizen Mr Matson Mashura said due to their vulnerability, the elderly should be given first priority.

"The elderly persons are kept waiting the whole day in the queue. If it is possible, they should create separate queues for them. I actually took an off day to get vaccinated but it turned out to be a wasted day," he said.

Last week the city rolled out a vaccination exercise targeting 15 000 informal traders within 10 days and vaccinated more than 7 000 vendors in four days. As of Monday, a total of 30 332 people received their first jab yesterday and 10 139 their second. The seven-day rolling average for new cases rose to 2 058 yesterday from 1 898. Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube attributed the delays to manpower shortages.

"Clinics have manpower shortage because we still need to need to balance the equation by having medical staff attending to patients while others will be conducting vaccinations," she said.

Source - chronicle