Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu and Patrick Chitumba, Chronicle Reporters
THE national Covid-19 vaccination blitz targeting school pupils started on a higher note yesterday as pupils turned up in their large numbers to receive the jab.
The upgraded Covid-19 vaccination blitz targeting everyone above 12 years was launched by Vice-President and Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Constantino Chiwenga on Sunday and its main aim is to minimise infection rates as well as reduce severity of symptoms.
The blitz is being conducted in two phases during this month, April and May. The first phase started yesterday and will end on 3 April while the second phase will run from 2 May to 15 May.
Bulawayo is targeting 17 schools this week and already Eveline High, Coghlan Primary, Mzilikazi High, Milton High and Northlea High schools showed massive uptake as vaccination teams were overwhelmed by the numbers that turned up.
Eveline and Milton had the highest numbers that turned up for vaccination according to council health officials. They said that most school authorities in the city wrote letters to parents last week advising them about the blitz and seeking permission for their children to be vaccinated.
This news crew observed that some of the learners who are 16 years and older were receiving their second jabs as they received their first last year in December after the Government gave the green light for 15-year-olds to be vaccinated.
Bulawayo has one of the highest vaccination rates in Zimbabwe and so far, 55 percent of eligible residents have received both doses of the vaccine, official figures show.
Bulawayo provincial medical director, Dr Maphios Siamuchembu, said the blitz seeks to boost numbers as the country gears up for herd immunity.
“People should get vaccinated as soon as possible as we expect a rise in cases as we go towards winter. So far, scientific evidence shows us that people who are not vaccinated are the ones who are dying in huge numbers,” said Dr Siamuchembu.
He said at the moment the number of active cases is low but as we approach winter they may rise.
“We also know that there is another emerging wave from China and since countries have opened their borders, it may spread rapidly,” said Dr Siamuchembu.
Bulawayo Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube, said the vaccines will be rolled out at all municipal clinics, central hospitals, Mater Dei Hospital, all primary and secondary schools and outreach points.
“The City of Bulawayo in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and that of Primary and Secondary Education, will be conducting the vaccination programme targeting the 12 to 15-years group. During the campaign the vaccination of 16-year-old and above will continue,” said Mr Dube.
He called on every eligible resident to get vaccinated and the blitz was aimed at leaving no one behind.
One outreach points was set up in front of Nssa offices along Leopold Takawira Avenue and Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Street.
In the Midlands Province the vaccination blitz for minors also started smoothly with the provincial medical director, Dr Mary Muchekeza, urging all citizens to remain vigilant and embrace vaccination to enhance their immunity.
“Vaccination seeks to protect individuals and communities from severe Covid-19 infection and prevents hospitalisation and death. However, the province is generally experiencing low Covid-19 vaccine uptake with our coverages for the 16 plus age group standing at 42 percent, 31 percent and 1,4 percent for the first, second and third dose respectively,” she said.
Dr Muchekeza said a focused multi-sectoral approach remains critical in order to increase Covid-19 vaccine uptake.
Under the latest blitz, she said the campaign will make efforts to strengthen participation of hard-to- reach and often reclusive communities in vaccination programmes through the use of the ‘My Village My Home approach’.
“We call upon traditional and religious leaders, the business community, school authorities and individuals to embrace this vaccination campaign with utmost zeal as Covid 19 vaccination is our best line of defence against this virus and the pandemic as a whole,” said Dr Muchekeza.
She said every stakeholder should put all hands on the deck in order for the campaign to succeed.
The numbers coming for Covid-19 vaccinations have been low despite the fact that the vaccination is free and readily available.
As at Sunday, Zimbabwe had 244 519 confirmed cases, including 234 547 recoveries and 5 427 deaths. To date, a total of 4 415 064 people have received their first dose, 3 441 731 have received their second while 178 137 received a booster.
Article Source: The Chronicle