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Cultivate demand for Covid-19 vaccines

According to Health and Child Care ministry statistics, only 7 209 people got their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Friday and 10 298 received the second dose.

The slow pace of Covid-19 vaccinations across the country must spur the government to come up with  new strategies to increase the uptake of the vaccines because they remain the only viable way to stop the spread of the disease.

According to Health and Child Care ministry statistics, only 7 209 people got their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Friday and 10 298 received the second dose.

Zimbabwe had 2 527 931 fully vaccinated people as of Friday, a figure that is well below the 10 million the government said it wanted inoculated by the end of the year  to achieve herd immunity.

There has been a noticeable decline in the number of people seeking the Covid-19 vaccines since the end of the third wave of the pandemic around July.

That should point to the fact that people were driven to vaccination centres by the fear of contracting the disease as they saw huge numbers of the infected and those who were dying in large numbers due to Covid-19.

It can be argued that the demand for the vaccines was cultivated by the fear among the people to catch the virus more than efforts by the authorities to create interest in its vaccination programme.

Zimbabwe was among the first countries in Africa to roll out Covid-19 vaccines and for some time was leading in the uptake of vaccines, but the numbers have been falling.

The government must do more to make citizens understand that a successful vaccination programme is the only way the country can turn the corner and end nearly two years of lockdowns.

Zimbabwe’s economy is very fragile as shown by the on-going price increases of basic commodities and prolonged lockdowns can only worsen the situation.

There are many reasons that make people hesitant to take up the vaccines, which include lack of information, misinformation and logistical reasons.

In rural areas people generally live far away from health centres where the vaccines are being administered from.

There are reports of many people being turned away from vaccination centres because their blood pressure is too high, for instance, and this has been linked to the long distance they have to travel to health centres.

In some areas people are said to have been turned away because the number of people seeking vaccines on that particular day would have been too low.

To deal with the issue of distance the authorities need to set up more mobile vaccination centres so that the services are brought closer to the people.

There is also a need to intensify education campaigns and use platforms where bigger audiences can be reached compared to the traditional media.

A successful Covid-19 vaccination programme remains our only hope for the country to return to normalcy.

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