Zimbabwe’s elderly say they’re happy with Chinese COVID-19 vaccines, take their first jabs

A man gets a jab of Sinopharm vaccine at a hospital in Gokwe, Midlands Province, Zimbabwe, on Feb. 22, 2021. (Xinhua/Wanda)
A man gets a jab of Sinopharm vaccine at a hospital in Gokwe, Midlands Province, Zimbabwe, on Feb. 22, 2021. (Xinhua/Wanda)

Zimbabwe’s elderly people have taken heed of the government’s call for them to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and are among those trooping to the Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare to get their shots.

According to the government-controlled Herald newspaper, there has been a significant response to the national vaccination program by the elderly since the second stage of the rollout began this week.

The second stage includes people above 60 years of age, those with underlying conditions, teachers, hospitality industry staff as well as other frontline workers who have not been vaccinated.

The elderly have been classified among those who are at high risk of developing severe illness and death if they contract the disease.

Former Primary and Secondary Education permanent secretary Sylvia Utete-Masango, who was also inoculated, said the number of those coming forward was a sign that people were now more knowledgeable about the vaccines and their benefits.

“At first we were apprehensive and doubtful about the vaccines but once you get here (at the vaccination center), it becomes clearer. As you can see the numbers are picking up and people are warming up to the vaccine,” she said.

She commended the government for the efforts to enable citizens to get the vaccine free of charge which she said would help reduce the number of people dying from the pandemic.

Retired nurse Rosemary Gwata encouraged fellow citizens to be vaccinated.

“People will ask questions and question the vaccines, but they should know that it is very important to get vaccinated against this COVID-19 pandemic. This is why we made sure that we protected our children when they were young.

“They received immunization from day one up to the time when they were grown up. The same thing is now happening with this virus and we are fortunate that there is a vaccine now. Why not take advantage of the vaccine which is being given for free? I am a nurse and I encourage all people to come and be vaccinated,” she said.

Another retired nurse, Winfrieda Jokonya, said there was a need for more education to convince people to be vaccinated.

“My daughter is a doctor and she has been telling us that if there is a vaccine, we should go for it but we were a bit apprehensive. At the end of the day we realized that this is the way to go. If other people are having it and surviving, then why should we not take it?”

As of March 24, just over 49,400 people had received their first dose of either the Sinopharm or Sinovac vaccines from China.

The Sinovac vaccine was rolled out in the resort city of Victoria Falls this week with President Emmerson Mnangagwa taking his first shot there Wednesday.

Zimbabwe has now recorded 1,516 COVID-19 related deaths from 36,749 confirmed cases.