The time is now

Infomation Minister Monica Mutsvangwa

The Ministry of Health and Child Care has given private healthcare facilities in hotspots the greenlight to administer  vaccination at a fee as it ramps up the vaccination programme.

Injection by a doctor will cost ZWL$434.35 while by a nurse will be ZWL$220.64 and they should not charge above the stipulated administration fee, according to a letter signed by Health and Child Care permanent secretary Jasper Chimedza.

Experts say the roping in of private healthcare facilities will help cure vaccine hesitancy as some citizens have no confidence in public and council health care facilities.

The move comes barely a week after the government removed restrictions allowing those without  IDs to get the jab as long as they have a letter from  a local leader such as MP, councillor or headman.

It also comes on the backdrop of a spike in new cases and deaths. Information and Publicity minister Monica Mutsvangwa told a post Cabinet briefing on Tuesday  that new infections  more than doubled to 21 346 in the week ending July 20 from 8 013 during the week ending July 13 attributable to the general complacency in adhering to the set Covid-19 preventive measures in the communities and at workplaces.

This has jolted the government with the Public Service Commission decreeing that 10% of the staff in ministries, departments and agencies should be at work from 40% except those in the Ministry of Health and Child Care and designated critical services.  It has also ordered that unvaccinated employees should not use the buses provided.

Zimbabwe is banking on vaccination to reduce the effects of Covid-19 as statistics show that the country has one of the highest case fatality ratios in the region. At 3.1, Zimbabwe has the second highest case fatality ratio after Eswatini with 3.4.

There is a compelling case for citizens to embrace Covid-19 preventive measures such as social distancing, washing of hands and sanitising. They have to go an extra mile: staying at home and vaccination.

Mutsvangwa announced that government is expecting a delivery of 1.5m vaccine doses this week and an additional 1m doses plus 2 million syringes on July 25. This is a major boost to the vaccination programme.

While vaccination does not stop one from getting infected, it boosts the immune system. Countries are targeting to vaccinate 60% of the population to achieve herd immunity. After that, things return to the pre-March 2020 levels. The United Kingdom this week removed the remaining Covid-19 restrictions after inoculating more than half of its  population.

Politicians across the divide and influencers have been posting their vaccination cards to encourage the next person to take the jab. For the unvaccinated, the best time to get the jab was yesterday, the next best time is now.

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