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Rumbidzayi Zinyuke-Health Reporter

COVID-19 vaccination roll-out has peaked in rural areas after a blitz of mass awareness programmes by the Government as well as the steady supply of the doses nationwide.

As of July 25, a national total of 1 447 342 had received their first dose of the vaccine while 680 060 had been fully vaccinated.

Although provinces mainly dominated by rural districts still lag behind Harare and Bulawayo, statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Care show that the rate of vaccination has significantly improved since the programme began in earnest in February.

So far, 183 287 first doses have been administered in Manicaland and 91 203 second doses while Mashonaland Central has administered 103 019 first doses and 34 357 second jabs.

Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South have administered 168 114 (73 712 second jabs), 177 385 (61 986), 99 668 (58 182) and 70 316 (30 765) respectively.

In Masvingo and Midlands, 103 941 and 126 668 people have received the first dose respectively and 48 760 and 66 804 people have been fully vaccinated.

According to Deputy Minister of Health Dr John Mangwiro, the increased uptake of vaccines can be attributed to targeted outreach programmes aimed at sharing information on the pandemic and vaccination programme.

“Generally, uptake of vaccines has been good nationally including in the rural areas. Government has been doing outreach programmes which we have been using to reach out to remote areas,” he said.

Buhera District Medical Officer Dr Shelton Kwiri said uptake of vaccines had significantly increased with demand often surpassing supply.

As of last Friday, the district had received 10 000 doses which would only last for seven days given the appetite to get the jab.

“The demand for the vaccine is growing. Previously we would move around encouraging people to get vaccinated but now they are coming on their own. We sometimes have to create more vaccination points to avoid long queues at Murambinda Mission Hospital and Birchenough Bridge hospital. 

“Per day we are vaccinating close to 1 000 people. Each of our two points here in Murambinda vaccinates 200 people per day and Birchenough also gives us high volumes of more than 100 per day. The rest of the numbers are coming from the clinics,” said Dr Kwiri.

He said the clinics in the wards could be recording lower vaccination numbers due to the long distances that people have to travel to reach them.

“We have had challenges in reaching out to people in parts of Buhera South where some members of the apostolic sects are not yet coming in for vaccines. But in Buhera North the numbers are quite good. We are trying to engage the community leaders and village health workers to create more demand in those communities,” added Dr Kwiri.

Treasury has set aside US$100 million for the purchase of vaccines and US$93 million has so far been used to purchase jabs.

This week, Government took delivery of one million Sinovac vaccine doses, taking the total number of vaccines brought into the country so far to over five million.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said another 6,5 million doses had already been paid for to take the total amount of vaccine doses purchased to 12 million.

The country will also receive another 1,15 million jabs from the Covax facility.

Zimbabwe targets vaccinating 10 million people to achieve herd immunity.

-The Herald

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