Public is skeptical and misinformed through social media networks like Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter by celebrities, politicians and prominent public figures
By Victor Shonhiwa
Zimbabwe recorded its first Covid-19 case in March 2020. Fast forward to 22 February, they launched their national COVID-19 vaccination program using BBIBP-CorV. As of September 2021, about close to 3million people have received their first dose and about more than 2million have received their second dose.
With the start of the vaccination program, Health and Child Care Minister Dr. Constatino Chiwenga announced the goal was to vaccinate about 10million Zimbabweans to reach herd immunity by December 2021.
The elderly people were first to be inoculated then followed by the majority of the public. The vaccination program was generously welcomed as people went in their numbers to be vaccinated.
However, the public is skeptical and misinformed through social media networks like Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter by celebrities, politicians and prominent public figures from other western countries, hence hindering the vaccination program.
The number of vaccinations began to drop drastically leading the government to indirectly force people to be vaccinated by banning unvaccinated congregants from attending churches and firing of civil servants.
They played this move because people will be forced to agree to be vaccinated at some point in order to secure their jobs, which is their sources of income and how they make their living. This was also a measure to boost the uptake of the coronavirus jab.
Mutare West MP Teedzayi Muchimwe (ZANU PF), who is a member of the Johanne Marange apostolic, disagreed that the directive was unfair to him and other fellow members who do not believe in vaccination.
“Is it now mandatory that the Covid-19 vaccination is now compulsory in view of the fact that there other entities that do not indulge in medication?” he quizzed.
In addition to that point, Dzivarasekwa MP Edwin Mushoriwa (MDC Alliance) described the ban as violation of the citizens’ rights.
“By putting restrictions on the unvaccinated or those unvaccinated because of religion or other views, the government is in a way setting a wrong precedence for it is actually encroaching into the rights of individuals?”
This comes to our million-dollar question: “Will Zimbabwe reach the anticipated vaccination herd immunity?”
Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely.
Well, with all that has been done and said, it looks bleak as there are discrepancies in the health sector.
The emergence of fake Covid-19 vaccination cards issued by some health officials poses huge challenge to the vaccination progress. On the black market, if a head count was to be conducted in the major cities like Harare and Bulawayo, it may be possible to find that Zimbabwe had already reached herd immunity o 10million people.
Furthermore, as we approached the summer season, Zimbabwe has seen a gradual drop in daily infections and deaths. This led to the easing of the national lockdown and the public have let their guard down hence slowing the vaccination process.
With the effectiveness of the vaccinations in lowering the COVID-19 infections, the government is advised to also educate about the side effects as well. In addition, more vaccination centers should be available, for instance, vaccination in schools or more vaccination points in communities.
Victor Shonhiwa is a freelance journalist. He graduated from the Zimbabwe Open University.
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