ZIMBABWE’S Covid-19 vaccination programme gets under way today, with authorities set to inoculate 100 000 frontline workers.
In a ministerial statement presented in Parliament on Tuesday, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga — who is also the minister of Health and Child Care — said the vaccinations would include health workers in the security sector, among others.
This comes after Zimbabwe took the first delivery of 200 000 vaccines from China earlier this week, which have since been given the green light by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (Mcaz) after they were certified safe and effective against the killer virus.
Chiwenga said the government’s initial priority list included 49 000 ministry of Health officials, 30 000 members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), 50 000 members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and 13 000 Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Service (ZPCS) staff.
“The ministry of Health and Child Care has 49 000 and all these will be vaccinated. In the defence and security sector, we are starting with 4 000 ZDF members who have over 3 000 of their staff who are health workers.
“The police have got plus 500 health workers who will be vaccinated. In the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services we will be vaccinating over 700 health workers.
“Besides these, we will be vaccinating all members of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) and … immigration workers who we also term frontline workers,” Chiwenga said.
“There are others who have not been put in this report, the Agritex officers under Agriculture, and there can be a few who might have been left out, but I have just highlighted the major areas which will constitute phase one,” he added.
Under phase two of the inoculation programme, the government would target populations at high risk, including those in vulnerable groups such as people with chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, TB and other conditions.
“This is because you do not want to get this virus while having underlying conditions, as it will be very difficult to treat such patients.
“The elderly population who are 60 years and above, the prison population and others, as well as confined settlements like refugee camps are considered to be in stage two as they are likely to get this disease because of staying together in big numbers.
“Even some of our urban settlements are not the best settlements we can talk about. So, we will look at that and make sure that those people are saved,” Chiwenga said further.
He also said the government would fork out more than US$1,2 million for the phase one programme, which would go towards provincial and national planning and the training of vaccination personnel, the administration of the vaccine, supervision, advocacy and communication, logistics and cold chain and data management.
“I want to hasten to add that from now we will be getting the vaccines regularly, maybe every two to three weeks, so that the programme of vaccinating our people does not stop.
“In addition, an operational budget to fund the implementation of planned activities is in place and has been shared with Treasury.
“The Pharmacovigilance and Clinical Trials Committee will implement vaccine vigilance plans to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine in use,” he said.
Chiwenga also said the government’s aim was to vacinate 22 percent under the first phase, about 18,4 percent under phase two, and another 18,4 percent under phase 3 — “thereby yielding a vaccinated population of nearly 60 percent of the population”, which is equivalent to 10 million people.
The country needs about US$7 million to acquire enough vaccines to inoculate all these people.
The money, Chiwenga said, would be mobilised through public-private partnerships (PPs), as well as support from the governments of China, India and Russia.