By Johannes Marisa
MANY people doubt some medical conditions until they become worse. In some instances it has culminated in complications and even death.
This was the same with the biblical Thomas, who doubted the resurrection of Jesus Christ and went on to demand proof of crucifixion of which he was shown scars.
That is what happens in life. So many people have succumbed to diseases and some of these ailments are curable, however, complacency has played a significant role in the spread of the diseases. COVID-19 started as a joke with few people being isolated in China but within months, the whole world was in tears with millions of people losing their lives.
Today, close to 5 million people have succumbed to coronavirus. What I have noted is that complacency is enemy number one that we ought to fight.
Zimbabwe has fought COVID-19 well with its team of dedicated health workforce that includes public and private health practitioners. It required dedication, diligence, love and knowledge to tackle the diabolical virus.
The resources are always limited in many African countries but we made use of what was available in order to conquer.
Public health measures like masking up, social distancing, sanitisation, hand-washing all played significant roles, but we should not forget that the war is not yet over.
We are grateful that the government secured vaccines for everyone. It is sad that some people are shunning vaccination. We should be rejoicing that the vaccines are readily available.
It is not pleasing to note that only 15% of the eligible population has received full vaccination. If we are to achieve herd immunity by December 2021, then we need to move with speed to vaccinate as many people as possible. It is almost definite that we will be hit by the fourth wave of the COVID-19 some time this year and this is the time to prepare ourselves for the attack by making sure we are inoculated. We need to vaccinate as many people as we can. The COVID-19 war can only be won through massive vaccination. Sooner rather than later, the world will run short of ideas if attacks continue. This is alarming and the threat to humanity is unprecedented in the midst of new mutant strains that are emerging. That is COVID-19 for us and we ought to appreciate the calamitous nature of this virus.
In August, Zimbabwe used to record at least 30 000 people coming for the first jab which has plummeted to less than 10 000 lately, a signal that many people are now reluctant to be vaccinated. This will backfire on us as the degree of complacency is unprecedented and the emergence of the fourth wave will shake many who will be caught unawares. There is a lot of mutation going on with many more strains being detected like the C.1.2 which is suspected to be associated with increased transmissibility and an high ability to evade antibodies. Mutations are first classified as variants of interests by the World Health Organisation and once they are identified as being more severe or transmissible, they are termed variants of concern. The emergence of such stubborn mutants is a signal that we are far from being done with COVID-19 and it is imperative that we desist from being complacent as surely more waves are coming in the immediate future.
We have been inundated with calls from people who desire to be vaccinated and the response has been quite good. What I find baffling is that there are many people who are determined to discourage others from being vaccinated. On social media, you find people asking if the deceased was vaccinated or not.
Who said when one is vaccinated, one cannot die from COVID-19? Vaccination reduces seriousness of disease, hospitalisation and even mortality.
In view of how things are moving concerning COVID-19 given the numerous mutations that are emerging, it is wise for people to take advantage of the available vaccines and get inoculated despite the misinformation and disinformation that are peddled about vaccination.
Zimbabwe has done very well in terms of vaccination with a national coverage of 29,7% and 18,9% for the first and second doses, respectively. It would be good news for the nation if we achieve herd immunity as soon as possible so that we are protected as a country. People should know the following:
Vaccination, which is haphazard and sporadic, can result in flare ups.
As people do not get vaccinated as soon as possible, the fact that there are vaccination gaps in terms of time of inoculation they may allow for mutations to take place in between and the cycles of misery will persist for a long time.
Media houses should play a significant role in disseminating information to the masses about vaccination. Get your jab today.
Your health matters and it does not need someone to tell you that you should get vaccinated. Inasmuch as you are very concerned about human rights violations in terms of vaccination, just know that it is your health that is being protected.
The nation needs you, your family needs you since you still have many things to accomplish and it is time to encourage your neighbours, friends, companions to at least get some protection from the vaccine.
We are expecting a serious fourth wave at the end of the year that may have at least four mutant strains in one basket. The coronavirus is merciless, we need to prepare ourselves for battles ahead. Do not be caught unawares.
Let those with medical knowledge advise you and do not assume that everyone who has access to the internet has all of sudden become medical specialists. Social media messages are misleading people with some arguments coming from people with very little medical knowledge.
This is the time for national consensus, inter-sectoral collaboration, advocacy and health promotion.
Let us support all those who need vaccination. Do not buy vaccination cards on the streets to evade inoculation. Vaccination is for your safety and the nation at large.
Make sure those that are sick are detected early so routine temperature checks are important. Symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, headache, joint pains, loss of appetite, hot body, tiredness so make sure you are safe.
- Johannes Marisa is president of the Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe. He writes here in his personal capacity.