Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Senior Health Reporter
THOUSANDS of Zimbabweans who received first doses of the Indian Covaxin vaccine may have to consider starting afresh with a different one as Government has failed to acquire additional doses for them to complete their vaccination.
The delays in procuring the vaccine were due to the prevalent Delta variant in India which claimed the lives of millions of people in the Asian country.
India donated 35 000 doses of its vaccine early this year which were rolled out as part of the ongoing mass vaccination. Due to the prevailing third wave India failed to deliver an additional 35 000 doses that were promised.
Zimbabwe is targeting to vaccinate at least 10 million people by the end of this year to achieve herd immunity.
In an interview Covid-19 coordinator Dr Agnes Mahomva said Covaxin recipients who got the first dose can approach any health centre and get inoculated.
She said the vaccination programme was going on well and the herd immunity target still stands.
Dr Mahomva said Government had however procured enough doses of other Covid-19 vaccines which are being rolled out.
The country is rolling out Sinopharm, Sinovac and the Sputnik V vaccine.
As of Saturday, Zimbabwe had 132 333 confirmed cases, including 126 213 recoveries and 4 657 deaths.
To date, a total of 3 214 477 people have received their first doses of Covid-19 vaccines while 2 472 859 have received their second doses.
“Indeed, we had rolled out the Indian Covaxin but the country was hit by a horrible third wave which made it difficult for us to access more doses for our members of the public who had received the first dose. Unfortunately, it’s a development that is beyond the Government and the least we can do is keep checking for availability as India is still struggling to contain the pandemic at the moment,” said Dr Mahomva.
“Those who received the first doses of Covaxin in May and June are free to start the whole process afresh and access a new vaccine. Unfortunately, they won’t be able to mix vaccines as some suggested hence they should start afresh or continue waiting for the availability of the Covaxin which cannot be guaranteed now.”
Dr Mahomva said members of the public with old vaccination cards were also free to approach any health centre and get new ones as long as they have a copy of the old card.
“We are still going on with the vaccination programme which is doing well and just like in the beginning we are guided by science. The Ministry is still to roll out the vaccine to learners which was approved by Cabinet,” she said.
Dr Mahomva said she was aware that some people are wondering when Zimbabwe will roll out the Johnson and Johnson vaccine which was approved by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe.
“Indeed, we have had several meetings with the Medicine Control Authority of Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care and others to look at how we can deploy the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“They looked at the science and they gave their reports on that. I know people always say, Oh the J&J has been given authorization, let’s use it tomorrow but on the ground, if you look at the details, you find that it has got so many issues and challenges,” she added.
“When we sat with the Ministry of Health, we noted that we are struggling in terms of capacity to store and roll out the J&J vaccine. You know we have got the Sputnik-V and we have just struggled to also roll that one out because it has similar requirements to the J&J. The ministry has been focusing on trying to make sure that their capacity improves before we roll out the approved J&J so members of the public should understand that it is work in progress,” said Dr Mahomva. – @thamamoe.