Africa-Press – Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s average weekly COVID-19 vaccination rate last week fell to its lowest since July, raising fears that the country could fail to vaccinate 60% of the population needed to attain herd immunity by year-end and be ravaged by the fourth wave of coronavirus infections.
Government data showed that since the vaccination programme started in mid-February this year, 2.312 million, about 15.6% of the population, had been fully inoculated by 3 October.
The average number of people who got their first doses peaked at around 37 000 per day in mid-July when the country was in the middle of the third wave but dropped to less than 10 000 per day in recent weeks.
Health experts said the public had become complacent, disregarding COVID-19 protocols.
Speaking to NewsDay, COVID-19 national taskforce chief co-ordinator Agnes Mahomva had this to say:
We will never give up working towards achieving our ambitious target of vaccinating 60% of our population by year-end.
It is, however, determined by a number of factors such as the willingness of the public to take the vaccine.
As long as the public is not willing to get vaccinated, then we will not reach the number we are targeting.
The other issue is that reaching herd immunity depends on the availability of the vaccines.
However, the government remains committed to ensuring that it avails vaccine doses at any given time so that people get vaccinated.
Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said the falling vaccination numbers was because of poor strategic planning. Said Rusike:
The current vaccination strategy lacks focus on people and the community.
The issue of misinformation and lack of trust in the community with respect to COVID-19 vaccines and even the pandemic itself needs to be tackled by carrying out a sustained COVID-19 health literacy at the community level to dispel myths about vaccines so that we can increase vaccine uptake by building community confidence and acceptance.
He urged people to get vaccinated ahead of the fourth wave expected to hit the country in December.
Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association president Johannes Marisa called for a massive awareness campaign to encourage voluntary vaccination.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe was listed among the 15 African countries that have achieved the World Health Organisation set target to fully vaccinate 10% of their populations by September this year.