WITH the government acknowledging on Tuesday that the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has a realistic chance of hitting Zimbabwe as we approach the festive season, it is incumbent upon right thinking citizens to realise that we have a duty to do all we can to stop it.
In that context, it is our humble submission that if more of us get vaccinated, it could spell the difference between a fourth pandemic wave — like the crush of new cases piling up in other parts of the world already — and no wave at all.
The decision by the government to also vaccinate school-going children between the 16-17 age group is a step in the right direction.
However, with our national target being to vaccinate 10 million people representing about 60 percent of the population at a time we have only inoculated about 3,4 million citizens it follows therefore that the pace of vaccination must be massively escalated to avert the massive zero deaths predicted if this wave is to strike.
Working with leadership both inside and outside of the government, the ministry of Health must identify strategies to build vaccine demand.
As a starting point, authorities must consider intensifying public leadership across all sectors, making communications simpler and clearer, ramping up media and marketing strategies, energising networks of civil society, labour and business, and encouraging incentives that enhance the value and offset the opportunity costs of vaccination.
This is not to say the government has not been doing anything of late as over the past few months, a more systematic and grounded process of demand acceleration has been put in place, which we hope will provide new impetus to the roll-out process.
However, we maintain that while the country has done its best so far, that has not been good enough as Zimbabwe is currently in the category of vaccine laggards in comparative terms.
As has been the case in terms of the country’s other Covid-19 response measures including lockdowns where it has been applauded as one of the best on the continent, Zimbabwe must become a world leader in inoculation against the pandemic.
With experts agreeing that more people need to get the shot to avoid another pandemic resurgence with devastating consequences, the challenge now
involves easing access and convincing the hesitant among us to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated before the fourth wave catches us