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‘We might not meet vaccine demand’

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BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA/LORRAINE MUROMO

PARLIAMENTARY Portfolio Committee on Health chairperson Ruth Labode yesterday expressed concern over government’s capacity to meet demand for COVID-19 vaccines, given that the country currently only has 200 000 doses donated by China.

Labode said this during a virtual discussion organised by the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust to debate the country’s COVID-19 rollout plan currently underway, targeting frontline workers.

Zimbabwe last week took delivery of 200 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China, with donations from Russia still to be delivered.

“We are not going to have only one vaccine in Zimbabwe, but we are going to have more, we are expecting the Covax vaccine from the African Union (AU), but my concern is not on the effectiveness of the vaccines, but the ability to carry out the vaccination plan if we got only 200 000 doses from China,” Labode said.

“My concern is on when we are going to get the next batch of vaccines. I am worried about whether we will meet the demand because when it came to Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo, many people came to be vaccinated,” she said.

Ernest Nyimai, a monitoring and evaluation officer with the Institute for Community Development in Zimbabwe, said government must consider all vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities (PWDs) in the inoculation programme.

“Absence of information for the PWDs is a cause of concern. We require information which is accessible to people with disabilities, they should be considered as a priority group,” Nyimai said.

Tashinga Zamba of Transparency International Zimbabwe said: “A lot of people are sceptical of the vaccine, and government has to educate the people and put information out there.”

The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) said there was need for transparency and the free flow of information on how PWDs will fit into the vaccination programme.

“We are concerned with lack of information regarding the inclusion of PWDs. We are concerned at the risks of ‘queue jumping’ in regards to eligibility of persons accessing the vaccines,” WCoZ said in a statement.

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