BY RICHARD MUPONDE
THE COVID-19 third wave, already wreaking havoc in the country, has triggered a stampede for vaccines, with statistics showing a fourfold increase in the number of people being inoculated across the country within 24 hours.
The demand has forced private health institutions to take advantage and charge for the jab following reports that government stocks of the vaccine have run dry at a time when demand has increased.
The country’s vaccination programme had been marred by apathy since it was launched by Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga in February this year.
But since the advent of the third wave, that has seen infections skyrocketing to as high as 766 recorded on Wednesday, the demand for the vaccines has increased, figures show.
According to the Health and Child Care ministry, the number of people who received their first dose jumped from 2 157 on June 22 to 8 898 the next day.
“About 8 898 received their first dose today (June 23), bringing cumulative for first doses to 715 056, while 11 573 received their second doses, bringing cumulative for second dose to
451 793,” the statistics read.
However, health experts have attributed the stampede to fear, as it has been discovered that most of the people who are falling seriously sick were unvaccinated.
The prevalence of the dreaded Indian variant also triggered the stampede.
Zimbabwe expects to receive 2,5 million COVID-19 doses from China by the end of this month as the country seeks to boost its vaccination drive after several centres ran out of doses, which has caused the panic.
COVID-19 national taskforce chief coordinator Agnes Mahomva yesterday attributed the surge in the number of people thronging the COVID-19 centres to the realisation that the vaccines were a life saver.
“The public has come to realise that the vaccines are helping people from not failing sick,” she said. “Vaccines in the country remain for free.”
Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe president Johannes Marisa said: “This is due to panic, people are now stampeding to get the vaccine because of fear.
“It has been shown that the majority of people who are falling seriously sick were those who are not vaccinated. So people are now realising the importance of the vaccine and they are now running around to get inoculated.”
Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive Solwayo Ngwenya said what triggered the huge interest in the uptake of vaccines was that people were desperate, and were scared as they at first were dismissive of COVID-19.
Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said the high numbers of COVID-19-related deaths and illnesses the country is witnessing had seen an increase in the number of people deciding to take the jab out of fear of being infected.
Health deputy minister John Magwiro at the weekend said unvaccinated people were dominating the present run of COVID-19 positive cases, with most infected people showing symptoms and most clusters of infection being initiated by someone who became infected outside the
The country has faced a shortage in vaccines at major centres in Harare and Bulawayo.
- Follow Richard on Twitter @muponderichard