THE prevailing shortages of first doses of vaccines being administered in Zimbabwe could result in majority of citizens being partially vaccinated if something is not done urgently, a Public Health Expert has warned.
By Tanaka Moyo
There have been widespread and confirmed reports of shortages of first dosses of the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines especially around urban poly clinics resulting in people being turned away without getting jabbed.
In an interview with HealthTimes, Mr Itai Rusike, the Executive Director for the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) said the issue of shortage of Covid-19 vaccines should be addressed as soon as possible avoid incomplete vaccination.
We need to address the issue of vaccine equity and avoid the current unfortunate situation whereby some areas are experiencing Covid-19 vaccine stock outs,” he said. “The vaccines that are being administered in Zimbabwe require two doses for someone to fully immunized hence the current shortages will increase the likelihood of incomplete vaccination.”
Even though cabinet this week announced that government would procure 500,000 more vaccines from China, the figure still falls below what was promised by treasury a few months where they indicated that they would importing at least 1 Million vaccines every month. Mr Rusike advised government to take measures to bring balance between demand and supply of vaccines.
“The government of Zimbabwe should create a balance between the demand and supply of vaccines especially now that a lot more people are willingly coming forward to be vaccinated. It is unacceptable that the government is failing to procure adequate vaccines to meet the demand of the newly created public interest in getting vaccinated as we risk losing the gains achieved so far as one of the leading countries in SADC region on Covid-19 vaccination program.
“Zimbabwe should join the Covax facility so that we can also benefit from vaccines being offered to the Low and Medium Income countries by the African Union (AU) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) if we are to move towards achieving the required herd immunity of vaccinating at least 60% of the population,” he said.
Mr Rusike added the Sinopharm vaccine strategy might be difficult to maintain in marginalized communities as the vaccine requires two dose and it may be hard for some people in rural areas to get the second jab due to some factors thereby resulting in incomplete vaccination.
Meanwhile, Mr Rusike said the, “the decision to select a suitable vaccine for the country should be done after widely consulting health professionals and public health experts taking into consideration the country’s ability to manage the cold chain.”