The Sunday News
Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
COMMUNITIES in the rural areas have pleaded with authorities to ensure that vaccines are made available at most vaccination centres for easy access.
This comes at a time when the ongoing national vaccination programme has been embraced in rural areas across the country following Government’s mass awareness exercises coupled with the availability of the jabs.
However, some people feel more should be done for the elderly to easily access the jab as cases of people dying from the pandemic continue to rise among the rural folk.
Silobela Member of Parliament Cde Mthokozisi Manoki Mpofu said the rate at which people were dying in his constituency was worrying and called for responsible authorities to ensure availability of the jab.
“We are recording cases on a daily basis to an extent that one day we recorded five deaths in Silobela. The situation is getting out of hand and people now want to get vaccinated but the problem is that it is not easily accessible,” he said.
Cde Mpofu said people were also disregarding lockdown regulations by attending funerals in numbers and continued opening of beer outlets.
“It is difficult to make people adhere to Covid-19 regulations especially in rural areas where people are used to attending funerals in numbers. But we have taken advantage to educate them on vaccination and now they are interested but the jab is not available,” he said.
Cde Mpofu said they are continuing with awareness campaigns wherever they get the opportunity.
In Gokwe, Chief Chireya said deaths have also suddenly increased in his area.
“At first all Covid-19 related deaths were imported like someone would die in Harare and be buried in Gokwe, but now people are dying of Covid-19 among us. We are therefore, calling for the powers that be to make vaccines available. You find that in some places like Madzivazvido, people would travel long distances to get vaccinated, only to find the vaccine unavailable,” said Chief Chireya.
He said adherence to Covid-19 regulations was also a problem as people were in the habit of sharing opaque beer.
Kwekwe District Taskforce on Covid-19 chairperson Mr Vitalis Kwashira said they have since introduced a mobile vaccination programme which will take them around all the rural places to complement the already ongoing programme.
“We have come up with a mobile vaccination programme that is meant to complement the already ongoing vaccination exercise. We release a programme first so that people get aware of it. But besides that, we are faced with a shortage of resources because we would need at least three or four such mobile teams going around the district,” said Mr Kwashira.
He said they will also enhance monitoring of the vaccines if they are reaching all the places.
“We have taken note of the concern and we will certainly look into the matter and address it accordingly,” he said.
All this comes as the vaccination rollout has peaked in rural areas after a blitz of mass awareness programmes by the Government as well as the steady supply of the doses nationwide.
The Treasury has set aside US$100 million for the purchase of vaccines and US$93 million has so far been used to purchase jabs.
This week, the Government took delivery of one million Sinovac vaccine doses, taking the total number of vaccines brought into the country so far to over five million.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said another 6,5 million doses had already been paid for to take the total amount of vaccine doses purchased to 12 million.
The country will also receive another 1,15 million jabs from the Covax facility.