Zimbabwe may consider mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations
Doctors fear the move would erode confidence in the vaccine
Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa says the country may consider mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations following resistance by the population towards getting the jab.
He was speaking on Friday at Nyamandhlovu, on the outskirts of Bulawayo, the second-largest city.
“You won’t be forced to be vaccinated. But there will come a time, if you are not vaccinated you will not be able to get a job, if you are not vaccinated you will not able to board a Zupco bus. Eventually you will have to decide for yourself,” he said.
Zimbabwe has rolled out a voluntary vaccination programme with health and other front-line workers given priority.
Dr Norman Matara of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said mandatory vaccination would not automatically increase vaccine uptake.
“Already we have myths and misconceptions around Covid-19 vaccination in the country, and the talk of mandatory vaccination will diminish all confidence.
“The rollout of Covid-19 vaccines requires communication and trust, and we fear the consideration of mandatory vaccination will compromise the uptick of the vaccination programme,” said Matara.
The country began vaccinating last week using 200,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines donated by China.
Guo Shaochun, the Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe, on Wednesday said another donation of 200,000 vaccines would be given.
The country is facing an uphill struggle due to vaccine hesitancy and vaccine misinformation, with only 11,007 front-line workers vaccinated by Friday.
As a way of winning public confidence in the vaccine, Mnangagwa said he would be vaccinated in the next consignment.
“The vice-president of the country had the first jab and he is still here. My cabinet and myself in two weeks, when the next consignment comes, we will be vaccinated,” he said.
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