…lactating, pregnant women eligibility still hangs in balance
Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) has already started Covid_19 vaccination on initially excluded groups following approval by Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) to include them on Sinovac vaccine.
The decision to include these groups was announced during the 39th post-cabinet briefing held in Harare though MoHCC is yet to relay the information nationally.
Masvingo Covid-19 Taskforce spokesperson Rogers Irimayi said the vaccination of teenagers aged 16-17 has already begun in the province and the Sinovac vaccine is in place while they are carrying out awareness programmes in the districts.
“The vaccination of teenagers aged 16-17 has started in Masvingo province. The Sinovac vaccine has already been sourced and awareness campaigns are underway in the districts.
“We are encouraging those who want to be vaccinated to visit vaccination centres where the vaccines have been distributed,” said Irimayi.
Masvingo Provincial Medical Director (PMD) Dr Amadeus Shamhu said they sent a truck to collect vaccines from Harare and distribution will start on November 11, 2021.
“We sent a truck to collect vaccines from the headquarters and they will be distributed in clinics starting from November 12,” said Dr Shamhu.
He said on the issue of including lactating mothers and pregnant women in the vaccination programme, the ministry has not yet written an official document.
“We have not yet received a written circular from MoHCC giving us green light to start vaccinating lactating mothers and pregnant women,” said Dr Shamhu.
Early September there was serious confusion over the vaccination of pregnant women and lactating mothers against Covid-19 in the country as officials continued to issue contradicting statements on the official position.
In that same month World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a statement on their website claiming that the vaccination of lactating and pregnant mothers brings in more benefits than harm as they are also at risk of infection.
“WHO recommends vaccinating pregnant women and lactating mothers where benefits outweigh the risks. That means pregnant women with heightened exposures to Covid-19, such as health workers and those with comorbidities, stand to benefit from vaccination,” read the WHO statement.
Recently MoHCC Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro said the nation had reached 38 percent on achieving herd immunity of the total population and gave green light to the vaccination of pregnant and lactating mothers while addressing journalists at a National Aids Council (NAC) workshop in Chinhoyi.
“On achieving herd immunity, we are now at 38 percent and it is everyone’s duty to contribute towards achievement of 60 percent by end of 2021. We have publicly announced that if pregnant and lactating women want to be vaccinated, they can do so,” said Dr Mangwiro.
Pregnant women and lactating mothers continue to be turned away from vaccination centres where they are told that MoHCC are yet to give a clear directive.
With just a month to go before year-end, it remains to be seen if the herd immunity would be achieved.