SENIOR STAFF WRITER
BOTH President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga — who is also the country’s Health minister — have emphasised that Covid-19 vaccines to be acquired by the government will be rolled out free of charge to citizens.
“Our national response strategy has reached a stage where we can now introduce vaccines as a second front preventive measure.
“As such, Covid-19 vaccines which have been scientifically ascertained to be safe, will soon be introduced. These will be State-funded and free.
“A national vaccine deployment framework has also been finalised. The initial objective is to inoculate at least 60 percent of the population to achieve population immunity.
“The first phase of inoculation of the vaccine will see our hardworking frontliners, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions being prioritised,” Mnangagwa said in a State of the Nation Address in Harare yesterday.
“Nevertheless, the government is aware that vaccines do not provide 100 percent protection … With this in mind, the present World Health Organisation public health protocols remain critical in the second phase, and must continue to be adhered to at all times, even after vaccines have been administered.
“Government has set aside the requisite financial resources for the purchase of vaccines. In line with our policy of pooling national effort and resources, government will also partner the corporate world and other players in the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines and related consumables.
“The recent meeting I convened with our business sector yielded notable and commendable results,” Mnangagwa added, while also praising China for its donation of 200 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to Zimbabwe.
This comes after reports suggested that some citizens would pay for the inoculations meant to fight coronavirus infections, which have been on the rise since the beginning of this year.
Speaking in a virtual meeting to mark World Cancer Day yesterday, Chiwenga similarly paid tribute to China, while also reiterating that the government would roll out Covid-19 vaccines for free to all citizens who wished to be vaccinated.
On his part, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube earlier cleared the air on vaccine access in the country, insisting that no one would pay for them.
“It has come to my attention that my comments about the payment for Covid-19 vaccine have been taken out of context.
“I would like to make it clear that the vaccines that the government is procuring, with the support of our international partners and friends, will be made available for free to the citizens of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Authorities have said that Treasury has set aside US$100 million to procure about 20 million doses of vaccines, to immunise 60 percent of the population.
Apart from China, vaccines would also be secured through an African Union-led initiative that has so far procured about 270 million vaccines for the continent.
In addition, the government also intends to get vaccines from Russia.
Speaking in an earlier interview with the Daily News yesterday, the director of Epidemiology and Disease Control in the ministry of Health, Portia Manangazira, also said the government was committed to ensuring that vaccines were accessible to all citizens.
“Our principals, all the way to the top, have been engaging in various dialogues to ensure the vaccine becomes accessible and available to the population of Zimbabwe,” she said.