BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE/TATENDA CHITAGU
BULAWAYO residents have been urged to embrace the COVID-19 vaccine which will be rolled out in the city today.
This was said by Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) chairperson Ambrose Sibindi, who told Southern Eye that it was crucial for residents not to fear taking the jab to contain the spread of the deadly virus.
Government has already said the vaccination exercise will be done on a voluntary basis after the Chinese government last week donated 200 000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine.
Last Friday, Bulawayo received its first COVID-19 vaccines in preparation for its inoculation exercise which begins today.
Bulawayo has six high-density areas which have been registering the highest number of infections and fatalities, namely Emganwini, Nketa, Cowdray Park, Nkulumane, Pumula and the central business district (CBD).
“It is good that the vaccines are here, but there are mixed feelings from residents on issues of getting vaccinated. However, it is very critical that residents must take the jab as the government was very clear that it is safe and will be taken on a voluntary basis,” Sibindi said.
“People should not discourage each other from taking it.
“Let those that want to take the vaccine take it, and those that do not want to do so must not discourage others.
“It is better for them to watch from a distance,” he said.
Mbuso Fuzwayo, secretary-general of the Matabeleland-based pressure group, Ibhetshu LikaZulu said: “Most people do not trust the vaccine as the majority of the people in the country live with HIV and have other underlying health factors.
“However, other residents must feel free to take the vaccine as it is on a voluntary basis.”
Human rights activist Effie Ncube said the whole inoculation exercise must be guarded against corruption.
“As the vaccination exercise begins, we must ensure that there is no corruption and discrimination of the beneficiaries.”
Bulawayo acting provincial medical director, Welcome Mlilo said they were targeting to vaccinate nearly 6 000 frontline workers in the province.
In Masvingo, people interviewed by Southern Eye said they will adopt a wait-and-see attitude to first find out if the Sinopharm vaccine had any side effects.
“I am not willing to take the Chinese vaccine because I am not sure if it doesn’t have side effects since it has not been tested in Africa,” Lawrence Ruwoyo said.
“I don’t know if it’s effective, or how it works on pregnant women,” Melody Chikomo said.
Another Masvingo resident, Maxwell Murengeni, said: “I would prefer a different vaccine, not the Sinopharm one.”
In Harare, the vaccination exercise began on Thursday last week, with Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga getting the first jab. Government targets to vaccinate approximately 49 000 health workers under the first phase.