Tuesday, 6 July 2021

STAMPEDE AT VACCINATION SITES


BULAWAYO residents, mostly informal traders, thronged various mobile centres dotted across the city to get vaccinated against Covid-19 during the national mass exercise rolled out yesterday.

The vaccination programme will see 15 000 people from hotspots in the city being inoculated in less than 10 days.

The province is targeting to vaccinate at least 400 000 residents to achieve herd immunity, amid a surge in cases and deaths in the past few days.

The city can achieve herd immunity if 330 000 residents get vaccinated as 70 000 residents have already been inoculated.

According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care daily Covid-19 report, the country on Monday recorded 1 540 new cases and 33 new deaths.

As of July 5, country had recorded 54 014 confirmed cases 1 911 deaths and 41 406 recoveries. The national recovery rate has declined to 74 percent with active cases rising to 12 697.

To date, a total of 1 369 436 people have been vaccinated against Covid-19. At least 797 715 got the first jab while 571 721 received second doses.

A Chronicle news crew yesterday visited selected vaccination centres and observed that there was a stampede as people jostled to be inoculated.

In some centres, such as Cowdray Park Bus Terminus and Lobengula Street/Third Avenue in the city centre, the process moved smoothly with queues moving faster than other points such as City Hall, Renkini and Nkulumane Hall which were characterised by chaotic scenes as people shoved and pushed each other.

Police had a torrid time as they tried to control meandering queues. Residents who spoke to Chronicle said the vaccination exercise will go a long way in the fight against the spread of the deadly virus.

Mrs Gloria Ndlovu, a food vendor in Cowdray Park said: “I came here in the morning and spent less than 30 minutes in the queue before I got vaccinated. Cowdray Park is crowded and a lot of people move around without face masks and therefore, this programme will help curb the spread of Covid-19.

“I am asthmatic and hypertensive, but I got vaccinated and I didn’t experience anything sinister. We should all get vaccinated particularly now that the cases and deaths are on the rise.”

Jerry Mubaiwa, a vendor around Lobengula Street/Third Avenue commended Government.

“This programme will certainly protect us from Covid-19. As a vendor, I urge all my colleagues to get vaccinated and once we achieve herd immunity, everyone will be safe. Everything is moving smoothly and even police officers are not encountering challenges in terms of managing queues,” he said.

Ms Jane Mutsvangwa was all smiles as she walked out the vaccination centre in Cowdray Park.

“I have been waiting for this opportunity to receive my first jab and I am glad I got it. I urge those who are still cynical to get vaccinated, there is nothing to worry about because this is the only way to curb the spread of Covid-19 and save lives,” she said. 

Mr Musa Ndlovu of Makokoba Renkini Vendors Association said the process was marred by chaos at the Renkini vaccination centre. 

“The challenge here is that vendors are not being prioritised. I came here in the morning and it was chaotic and some undeserving people are bulldozing through. The exercise is not going according to what was initially planned,” he said. 

“Sadly, some of our members ended up going back without being vaccinated because of this confusion.”

Mr Witness Ndlovu weighed in: “The decision by authorities to target vendors is a brilliant and noble idea because we deal with the public, but now the way it is being conducted is what is annoying us as vendors.” 

As part of the vaccination process, people are required to have their national identity cards and their personal details are entered into a register after which they get the jab. At some centres such as City Hall, people were asked to produce informal traders’ licences. 

Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Care show that Bulawayo has the highest Incidence Risk of 906, almost double that of Harare at 567 while Matabeleland South has 402. 

Bulawayo city health services director, Dr Edwin Sibanda said the increasing infection rate has highlighted the need to increase the pace at which residents are getting the vaccine to ensure the city attains herd immunity. 

He said they are also targeting people from areas that have been classified as hotspots.

Three clinical districts in the city —Nkulumane, Emakhandeni and Northern Suburbs — have been classified as hotspots.

“The idea was to vaccinate informal traders, but we have also included people from areas which have been classified as hotspots. Therefore, we believe that the target which we have been given by the Ministry of Health and Child Care of 15 000 over the next 10 days will be achieved in three days,” he said.

“When we look at our previous data, when all our points are vaccinating, we were recording up to 4 000 a day. Therefore, to get to that 15 000 it can take us at least three days, at most four days.”

Bulawayo acting provincial medical director Dr Welcome Mlilo said health authorities were encouraged by the Covid-19 vaccination demand in the city.

He urged residents to follow prevention measures as getting vaccinated does not shield one from contracting the virus, although its impact will be less severe. Chronicle

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