Mashudu Netsianda and Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporters
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has hailed Zimbabwe’s ongoing Covid-19 vaccination programme, which is progressing well with the country having the eighth highest vaccination rate in Africa and third in the Southern Africa region.
Zimbabwe’s free and voluntary vaccination programme aims to reach 10 million citizens to achieve herd immunity.
So far 223 000 doses have been given with 28 797 people having been fully vaccinated since the programme started in February translating to 1 percent.
In Africa, Seychelles has the highest rate of 65,6 percent followed by Morocco with 12,1 percent while Sao Tome and Principe is rated third highest with 4,4 percent followed by Rwanda with 2,7 percent.
Ghana with 2,1 percent is rated fifth followed by Senegal (1,9 percent). Eswatini has 1,8 percent. Malawi with 0,9 percent is rated 10th in Africa while South Africa is rated 17th with 0,5 percent while Botswana and Angola have 0,6 percent each. Mozambique and Namibia have 0,2 percent and 0,1 percent respectively.
Posting on his official Twitter page, President Mnangagwa said the vaccination programme is on course and urged citizens to get the jab.
“Zimbabwe’s #COVID-19 vaccination programme is working! Zimbabwe has the 3rd highest rate of vaccinations in SADC and 8th highest in Africa as a share of the population,” he said.
“We cannot lose this momentum – if you are eligible, I urge you all to get your jab #ZimVaccination.”
President Mnangagwa recently launched the second phase of the vaccination programme in Victoria Falls as he continues with his drive to ensure that Zimbabweans are vaccinated against Covid-19, a flu-like disease that has killed more than 1 500 people in the country since March last year.
In the campaign against the pandemic, President Mnangagwa has been leading the way as he rallies the nation to embrace vaccination.
Under the second phase of the vaccination programme, the country is targeting school teachers, religious leaders, security forces, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases, but in Victoria Falls, the Government made an exception as all the 110 000 residents were invited to take the jab.
Meanwhile, a total of 70 artistes in Bulawayo were yesterday vaccinated for Covid-19.
The artistes were mobilised by the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe including [email protected] Legends such as veteran historian and culture fundi Pathisa Nyathi, actress/storyseller/dancer Ellen Mlangeni and Iyasa director Nkululeko Dube were given the Sinovac jab at Cowdray
Park Clinic in Bulawayo.
Other artistes included, Sihlangu Dlodlo, Black Umfolosi lead singer and founder member Sotsha Moyo and multi award winning visual artiste Israel Israel, Ezimnyama Dance Ensemble, Hloseni Arts, songstress Qeqeshiwe Mntambo and visual artiste George Masarira.
The vaccination process was simple, first, artistes had to register with the medical staff at the clinic, where they were asked a bit about their health background and then their details were taken down. Thereafter they were given a Covid vaccine certificate and they entered a room where the jab is administered by health staff there.
However, one does not leave the venue there and then, but has to sit in the shade for 30 minutes to monitor whether or not there are any effects from the vaccine. If nothing happens, they are let go with their Covid-19 vaccine certificates that indicate the date for the second jab.
In interviews, the artistes urged Zimbabweans to be vaccinated, saying it was the only way the country could get back to normalcy.
Iyasa director and Nama legend Nkululeko Dube said vaccination was necessary.
“It was an easy experience compared to the fears and thinking what and how. Artistes are role models and there are many people who will take it up after we do it. We are in a sector that works with and among people and this is something we have to do. I hope this is one step to try and open up the sector,” he said.
Fellow legend, Umkhathi Theatre director Matesu Dube, who had already taken the jab two weeks ago said he was there to support his compatriots.
“Vaccination is very important as everything has been on stand still for us since last year in March. It’s like any other vaccination, for us it’s like Yellow Fever, when we travel to West Africa. This is the solution so that the body can fight this and maybe festivals and shows will open up soon,” he said.
Poet and MC, Ms Sithandazile Dube said the vaccine was like any other that were administered to her children. “I was a bit scared as I am someone who doesn’t like needles, but I didn’t feel a thing. As a mother, I have done so many vaccines for the children and I thought this vaccine is like the others. Let’s get vaccinated and let’s try and curb the Ciovid-19 and get back to our normal lives,” said Ms Dube.
Standup comedian, Nomsa “Ms Dee” Muleya said as artistes they should take the lead in the vaccination drive.
“As an artiste there are people who look up to me so if I don’t do it first then it makes it difficult for the next person to take the initiative.
“We need to be vaccinated it’s for our good, it’s the same as the vaccinations that we had such as polio.
“We want to get back to shows we are going hungry. We want to perform and the people should be vaccinated. I think the best thing is that when we do shows we use the certificate for entry,” she said.
Contemporary musician Hwabaraty said he took the decision to vaccinate as this was the only way in which the sector will be reopened.
“I like the idea that the vaccination exercise is being held in the community. If I have this it will be very easy for us to move around and travel abroad. After some delays and some expenses in South Africa I decided that given the chance I will get vaccinated. I’m not afraid of the vaccine it’s necessary,” said Hwabaraty.
Veteran arts practitioner Admond Desmond Ntini said vaccination was necessary for Zimbabwe to reach herd immunity.
“There has been a lot of information that is flying around and the same information has been making the people resort the vaccination programme. But knowing that we have to reach herd immunity, I’m encouraging people to vaccinate.
“We want to try to get a bit of normality in our country so that artists can get back to what they love and they put food on their tables,” said Ntini.