Government has extended mass vaccinations against cholera to residents of Mbare, Glen View, Glen Norah and Budiriro in Harare to allow everyone who could have missed the programme to benefit, Epidemiology and Disease Control director in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Portia Manangazira, has said.
The vaccination programme -- which was supposed to run for five days up to yesterday -- has been extended by two more days.
"These additional days are meant to mop-up all residents who could have missed vaccinations for one reason or the other," said Dr Manangazira.
She said at the same time, the Government will visit Epworth and Chitungwiza's St Mary's and Seke suburbs today to ascertain their readiness to start similar campaigns.
Dr Manangazira said the training of health workers in Chitungwiza and Epworth had already started and they would start vaccinations once Government was satisfied with their level of readiness.
"With the delivery of the second batch of the cholera vaccines today, we anticipate to start mass vaccinations against cholera in Epworth and two suburbs of Chitungwiza, which are St Mary's and Seke as soon as they are ready even when Harare is still vaccinating," said Dr Manangazira.
She said the Government would also want to draw lessons from the first vaccination campaign, which started last Wednesday before they complete scheduled campaigns for Harare ahead of the rainy season.
Residents from four other suburbs among them Stoneridge, Hopley and Kuwadzana are also scheduled to benefit from the mass cholera vaccinations.
All in all, Government is targeting to vaccinate 1,4 million people in cholera hotspots mainly in Harare, Epworth and Chitungwiza.
The same population must also be vaccinated before the onset of the rainy season for them to acquire total protection from the bacteria that causes cholera.
A total of 2,4 million doses of the cholera vaccine were availed by the World Health Organisation through its global stockpile, which is funded by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations.
WHO's regional director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said the vaccine gives Zimbabwe a window of opportunity to end the current cholera outbreak, which has so far claimed 43 lives.
Over 11 000 others, a majority of whom are from Harare, have also been treated for cholera.
"We have a window of opportunity to strike back with the oral cholera vaccine now, which along with other efforts, will help keep the current outbreak in check and may prevent it from spreading further into the country and becoming more difficult to control," said Dr Moeti in a statement.
Gavi CEO, Dr Seth Berkley said there was no justification why people should still be dying of cholera.
"Gavi has worked hard to ensure the global cholera vaccine stockpile remains fully stocked and ready to help stop outbreaks such as this. The Government of Zimbabwe has done a great job in fighting this outbreak. We must now hope that these life-saving vaccines can help to prevent any more needless deaths," she said.