Zimbabwe: 'Vaccinate Us, We Are Priority' - MPs

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga (file photo).
24 February 2021

ZIMBABWE'S lawmakers have demanded that they be vaccinated immediately against Covid-19 as they are a top priority and frontline personnel at risk of contracting the deadly virus.

The MPs have questioned why the government has not included them in the high risk sector of people being vaccinated against the scourge.

MDC Alliance MP and Health and Child Care Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chairperson Ruth Labode said legislators were demanding to be considered a top priority and get inoculated urgently.

Zimbabwe took delivery of 600 000 doses of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines from China last week and the vaccination programme started last weekend.

However, MPs feel they are being left out and Labode, a medical doctor highlighted that her parliamentary portfolio committee had since advised Health Minister and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga of the need to vaccinate all MPs.

"MPs are crying right now to the committee as they feel that they are also a priority because they are frontline workers. They wanted to be vaccinated like yesterday. That is very true. We represent the people," she said.

"When we are vaccinated in the presence of the media, we carry the whole world because they will be watching to see what happens to us. We live with our people. Every Friday we go back to our constituencies. We will be the testimony of our people," said Labode.

She said the main concern raised by the legislators was whether the government had the capacity to meet demand for the vaccines since there had been no specific arrival dates for the next batch.

"We even saw this on the criteria used for recruiting. Everybody wanted to be included for vaccination. When vaccines arrived in Bulawayo, everyone started to rush to Mpilo Hospital thinking the vaccines were for everybody," she added.

"We are not going to have one vaccine in Zimbabwe. My concern is not the effectiveness of the drug but the quantities. Currently we were only given 200 000 doses of Sinopharm by China.

"The question to ask is when is the next batch coming to Zimbabwe? The gap between the first batch and second batch should not be too long. If the gap becomes too long, that will definitely be a problem for government."

By Tuesday afternoon, 4 041 frontline workers, mostly health personnel, had been vaccinated across the country, according to the Health Ministry.

The vaccination programme will run in three phases starting with frontline workers, security personnel, the elderly and those with underlying conditions.

So far, vaccines available can only cover 100 000 people as a person requires two doses of the vaccine though spaced.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa last weekend assured the nation that everyone will be vaccinated as more vaccines were expected in the country soon.

Zimbabwe targets to inoculate 10 million people or 60% of the population.

To date Zimbabwe, has recorded 35 910 cases of Covid-19 and 1 448 deaths since the outbreak of the virus was first dictated in March last year.

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