Zimbabwean president, government officials receive COVID-19 booster shots

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, centre, receives his shot of the Chinese Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine in Victoria Falls, Wednesday March 24, 2021. /CFP Image

Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa and a number of government officials have received their COVID-19 booster vaccines in an effort to encourage more Zimbabweans to come forward and get the jab.

Only 7,254 people in Zimbabwe have received a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to government figures, compared to more than 4.1 million people who have received a first dose and more than 3.1 million people who have received a second dose.

FILE PHOTO: Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa receives a shot of the Chinese Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine in Victoria Falls. /CFP Image

“I can confirm that His Excellency the President, his deputies and a host of cabinet ministers who were not on holiday have received third doses and this is consistent with the opinion coming from our medical experts and, of course, keeping with the practice worldwide,” government spokesperson George Charamba said.

Charamba stressed the vaccine is safe and taking up the third dose was important given the threat posed by the Omicron variant which has led to a surge in infections in several countries worldwide.

Zimbabwe itself is currently experiencing a fourth wave of the pandemic and has recorded a rise in the number of cases and deaths.

“With the rise of the new COVID-9 variants, it has become important to reinforce our bodily defences, which is exactly what has inspired the position taken by the leadership. If you recall, we went for the initial phase of the vaccination and the leadership led on what we were supposed to do.”

With a section of Zimbabweans showing reluctance to get vaccinated, the government has stepped up its efforts to increase the number of people vaccinated by deploying mobile health teams in city and town centres and areas where social gatherings take place.

Zimbabwe has so far reported 217,678 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 187,980 recoveries and 5,078 deaths.