BY VANESSA GONYE
GOVERNMENT has authorised administering of COVID-19 booster shots beginning with frontline workers, Health and Child Care ministry secretary Jasper Chimedza has said.
Chimedza said frontline workers would be eligible to receive booster shots six months after receiving their second vaccine.
“The 3rd dose booster vaccination proceeds with the same vaccine type used for the 1st and 2nd doses for that individual,” Chimedza said in a statement dated December 24.
“For the avoidance of doubt there shall be no mixing of different vaccine types, there be at least six-month interval between the 2nd dose and the booster dose. The booster dose is recorded on the same vaccination card with the 1st and 2nd doses.”
Health experts said the booster shots could not be avoided in the face of the fourth wave.
“This is the fairest way to go as we are treading on the side of caution and also considering it has been six months after vaccination commenced,” Mashonaland faculty chairperson of the College of Primary Healthcare Physicians of Zimbabwe and director health services at the University of Zimbabwe, Enock Mayida said.
“It is a good way to make sure we boost the system at the same time taking precaution against adverse effects. They also indicated that frontline workers are at risk of contracting the Omicron variant, so it becomes imperative that a booster shot be given.”
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Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association’s Johannes Marisa added: “The booster shot vaccination is very important considering that the protection of the vaccines wanes after 6 to 10 months and a booster shot will try to take us to the next level.
“It is a step in the right direction because we want to make sure our immunity is protected. Frontline workers are at high risk of the virus considering we get in contact with patients on a daily basis.”
Only three million people had received both doses as of December 26, according to a situation report from the Health ministry, under half of the 10 million government target at the beginning of the programme in February this year.
Government first announced plans to administer booster shots in early December after the detection of the Omicron variant.
But the programme had not started as there was no clarification on how they would be administered.