Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Senior Health Reporter
BULAWAYO has the highest number of people who have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine in Zimbabwe with statistics showing that the province is halfway to achieving herd immunity.
As of Tuesday, 253 292 residents had received both doses of the vaccine which translates to about 51, 9 percent.
Bulawayo should have at least 500 000 residents fully vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
Nationally, only 33, 6 percent of the targeted 10 million people have received both doses of the vaccine.
In terms of provincial vaccine coverage, Bulawayo is followed by Matabeleland North at 46, 3 percent, Manicaland at 39, 8 percent and then Matabeleland South at 37, 4 percent.
At number five is Harare province at 32, 2 percent followed by Mashonaland Central at 30, 9 percent then Masvingo at 30, 7 percent while Mashonaland East is at 30, 4 percent.
Midlands and Mashonaland West provinces are at the bottom with 29, 7 and 28, 2 percent respectively.
As of Tuesday, Zimbabwe had recorded a cumulative 217 678 Covid-19 cases with 187 980 recoveries and 5 078 deaths.
A total of 4 141 158 people have received their first dose while 3 153 058 have received both jabs in Zimbabwe.
Another 7 254 have also received their booster third jabs as the country continues to implement measures meant to increase immunity against the deadly coronavirus.
Zimbabwe’s commitment to containing the deadly disease, which has affected the economy and disrupted services, was proven by the Government that set aside US$100 million to purchase vaccines at the beginning of last year.
The country launched its Covid-19 vaccination campaign on February 22, targeting health workers and essential service providers. With the availability of more doses, the vaccination was opened to everyone on a voluntary basis for free.
The development allowed the country to open economic activities and by the end of September the country had met the World Health Organisation target to have at least 10 percent of its population vaccinated by the end of that month.
Besides the financial commitment to procuring vaccines, Covid-19 also pushed the Government to invest more in healthcare which saw the reopening of Ekusileni Healthcare Centre in Bulawayo and the refurbishment of other public health institutions to cater for Covid-19.
In November, the Ministry of Health and Child Care also extended the vaccination programme to learners and plans are underway to also include those aged from 14-15.
While Covid-19 vaccination has allowed countries to open their economic activities, continued adherence to preventive measures to avoid the spread of the virus by wearing face masks, washing hands and social distancing remain critical.
Bulawayo provincial medical director Dr Maphios Siamuchembu said he was happy that the province had maintained the highest vaccination coverage in the country since last year.
He said the progress must not result in complacency as Bulawayo is only halfway through its journey to achieving herd immunity.
“Members of the public should understand that we have vaccinated half of targeted and eligible residents. As a province we will only achieve herd immunity when we vaccinate 60 percent of our population and it means vaccinating everyone who is eligible.
So far, we have vaccinated at least half of eligible residents and we continue pushing for more to be vaccinated so that we achieve this goal,” said Dr Siamuchembu.
“We have always had the second highest number of deaths recorded in the country. We are the second largest city and our transmission rates are high by virtue that we are a city. Our data collection methods are accurate and timely compared to maybe rural areas where some community deaths may not be captured and burials may go on without tests being conducted.”
He said although Bulawayo accounts for 15,8 percent of the total deaths recorded so far in the country, they were not a result of complacency.
“We still are the highest vaccinated province in the country despite having the second highest number of deaths in Zimbabwe.
We lost many lives including those of healthcare workers and it was a sad year for us. We are still learning about Covid-19 but the greatest tool we have at the moment to combat this deadly virus is getting vaccinated,” said Dr Siamuchembu.
Health expert Dr Rita Dlodlo said residents should continue going for their Covid-19 jabs for their own safety without delay.
“Bulawayo is leading the country, at 51 percent of residents having received two doses. As the local health services department is preparing to start offering booster doses for selected risk groups, let those of us who do not belong to any risk group and who have not completed their vaccinations move forward and get vaccinated without delay,” said Dr Dlodlo.
“This is important in view of the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant which may spread if we let our guard down. I would also like to thank the health staff for going an extra mile to keep the Bulawayo community safe, it took many sacrifices for us to get to where we are as a province.” –@thamamoe
Article Source: The Chronicle