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COVID-19 vaccine: Beneath the avalanche of inadequacy

Opinion & Analysis
COVID-19 vaccines are effective, they can save you from getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you get COVID-19.

By Gaylord Munemo

CRITICAL to this article is the deliberate need to debunk the heresy associated with the COVID-19 vaccines. COVID-19 vaccines are not experimental.

They went through all the required stages of clinical trials. Extensive testing and monitoring have shown that these vaccines are safe and effective.

COVID-19 vaccines are effective, they can save you from getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you get COVID-19. This having been said, it is, however, imperative to understand that the vaccine is not a cure and getting vaccinated  doesn’t mean one does not contract the virus.

The vaccination process in Zimbabwe has brought about a myriad of equity issues as the masses have been relegated to the periphery of the availability and accessibility of jabs.

While the relevant stakeholders have managed to demystify the vaccine hesitancy myths propagated by sceptics, critical to the issue is now the availability of and accessibility to the vaccine.

The desperate masses, who out of personal will or compulsion by employers want to be vaccinated, are, therefore, in a state of confusion as they are waking up before dawn, only to find themselves packed like sardines at local clinics where vaccines are either unavailable or inaccessible.

The outcome of such a situation is corruption and nepotism. Reports and observations have been made concerning biased selection of who should receive a jab today or tomorrow.

In quite bizarre but repetitive cases, people have to pay money to secure a vaccine in the face of overcrowded clinics and inadequate supply of the vaccines. The rising demand for vaccines against short supply has given rise to widespread corruption where those without what is required for a “successful transaction” are left out.

In some cases, healthcare practitioners inform their friends and relatives when to come and get the vaccine.

The general masses are told to check tomorrow morning while those in health practitioners’ circles are separately told to return in the afternoon after the multitude has dispersed.

This purposive selection of who is going to be vaccinated and when remains a prerogative of those who are administering the vaccines.

Such advantage in times like these make the healthcare system itself the subject of criticism. In any emergency management protocol, there should be set procedures accompanied by a crisis management plan which helps to contain any shock at any given time during the emergency response phase.

Failure to manage the crisis makes one question the efficacy of the crisis management plan, if there is any.

Many people have given up on taking the vaccine because they do not have the financial muscle, patience and energy to go to the vaccination points for five consecutive days without getting the vaccine.

It is, therefore, imperative for the government, through its various stakeholders, to initiate a crisis management plan and or revise the existing ones in order to curtail corruption.

It took strenuous effort to convince people out of vaccine hesitancy and such an effort will be in vain if the same people find themselves in such a predicament.

For purposes of the future, it is important to be conscious of the fact that lack of acceptance of vaccination may derive from previous failures of health systems and public institutions to serve certain sections of the population effectively and engender trust.

The COVID-19 waves are unpredictable and responsible for countless mortalities around the globe.

Delays in vaccination are likely to increase the mortality rate.

It is critical to understand that Zimbabwe has not attained herd immunity.

We are affected like any other country around the globe. Priority should be scaled up in terms of not only securing vaccines, but ensuring they are adequate to meet demand.

There is need for effective mobile vaccination units to reduce the strain on clinics and hospitals which are currently the hubs of vaccination.

Vaccination is the fastest way to attain herd immunity, hence the need to address this issue before it goes out of hand.

The Delta variant causes more infections and spreads faster than earlier forms of the virus that causes COVID-19. It causes more severe illness in unvaccinated people than previous strains.

Fully vaccinated people do not suffer severe illness from this variant and it does not last long.

The government is expected to engage the public when developing vaccination strategies.

While we appreciate the transparent and coherent public communication to address misinformation, we also need to champion the notion that fairness is a hallmark of human behaviour that underpins social cohesion and trust.

The issue of unavailability and inaccessibility of vaccines should be addressed forthwith because it is the responsibility of governments to manage the logistical challenges competently.

However, while we strive to ensure the need for an inclusive vaccination process, let us also realise the need to make people aware that vaccination is not a cure for the novel coronavirus.

Let it be remembered that being vaccinated alone doesn’t guarantee survival, as much as it increases it.

Stakeholders and players in the public health sector have demonstrated the need for one to be vaccinated, but more needs to be done to elucidate to the people that vaccines are not a panacea to infection prevention and control.

There is, therefore, need to make people aware that vaccination is primarily for health-related purposes because a significant fraction is taking it as an avenue to acquire the passport/card to gain access to places like churches and workplaces.