BULAWAYO City Council’s health department has dispatched medical officers to administer Covid-19 jabs to residents to push up vaccination rates, but the program is facing resistance.
The program, the first of its kind in Zimbabwe, began on January 13 and will has both health ministry staff and city officials working together in teams.
Initially designed to be a two-week program, council authorities say they may have to extend the program as vaccination uptake in the city of 650,000 people remain at unsatisfactory levels.
Mobile vaccination sites have also been established to administer initial, second and booster doses.
“Some residents are refusing to get vaccinated,” said Maphios Siamuchembu, the Bulawayo Provincial Medical Director, in an interview with Bloomberg News. “We have adequate vaccine doses and have no problem with human resources.”
The door to door program will have to be extended beyond the initial two-weeks, Siamuchembu said.
“Its one of the strategies which we will have to use to get people vaccinated,” he said.
Observers say the reluctance by people to be vaccinated even in the comfort of their homes is an indication of how Africa’s Covid-19 vaccination drive has now switched from sourcing doses to getting people to take them.
African nations including Zimbabwe faced difficulties accessing vaccines just a year ago. Now, the vaccines are abundant and the problem is how to administer them effectively. Apart from convincing people to get vaccinated, there is also the challenge of ensuring medical teams reach the most remote parts of the country.
However, the problem is not unique to Zimbabwe, as just 10.4% of Africa’s 1.2 billion people having received a full Covid-19 vaccine course to date.
Africa lags behind the rest of the world. In the U.S. 62% of the population has received a full course of inoculations and that figure is 72% for the European Union.
Zimbabwe, which has a population of about 14.8 million people, has administered 7.49 million of the 16.4 million doses it has received.
While Africa has received 570 million vaccine doses, only 353 million have been administered, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.