BY MAZWI MHLETSHWA
Frontline workers in Matabeleland South province are reluctant to take the Covid-19 vaccine as the first phase saw less than half of the targeted workers taking their first jab.
The province managed to vaccinate only 1 745 frontline workers against a target of inoculating 5 283 in the first phase from 11 010 Sinopharm vaccines received.
The first phase of the vaccination programme ended on February 19 in the province, while the second phase started on March 29.
This phase targeted frontline workers in the health sector, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) personnel, and Immigration employees, journalists, legislators and those in the security sector who are being vaccinated under phase one of the programme.
Matabeleland South Provincial maternal, neonatal and child health officer Norbert Singine said there had been a low turnout from frontline workers in taking up the jabs.
Singine said it was worrying that frontline workers were reluctant to get vaccinated considering they were at high risk of contracting the virus.
According to the provincial vaccination statistics, as of March 19, Beitbridge vaccinated 292 from 1 402, Bulilima vaccinated 82 against a target of 198, Gwanda vaccinated 297 from a target of 1 702.
Insiza vaccinated 291 from a target of 462. At the same time, Mangwe inoculated 270 from 586, Matobo vaccinated 283 against a target of 582. In contrast, Umzingwane vaccinated 230 from 351, bringing the total of the vaccinated people in the province to 1 745.
Singini urged health workers and those set to be vaccinated under phase two to take up the vaccination as it will help eradicate the spread of respiratory infection.
“Well, the low uptake up to now could point out unknown fears and myths among health workers which need to be addressed. As such, I appeal to them to use our different platforms to relay their concerns about the vaccination exercise,” he said.
“It’s now a month since we started this vaccination campaign and the good news is we haven’t had serious side effects. This can also be a wake-up call even to the doubting Thomases that the vaccine is safe.”
The second phase in the province is expected to start in the first week of April.
“I still encourage frontline workers to get vaccinated so that we reach the critical mass for herd immunity quickly,” Singini added.
A health worker, Thomas Matumo, said he was still reluctant to get vaccinated and will only do so when it’s clear that others have no complications after the second jab.
“The tests of certifying the vaccine’s credibility were not done in this country, so how are we sure that it works?
“Personally, I will only be vaccinated after seeing that the procedure on its second phase has no side effects,” Matumo said.
- This article was originally published by The Citizen Bulletin, a non-profit news organisation that produces hard-hitting, hyperlocal reporting and analysis for the southwestern region of Matabeleland.