VICTORIA FALLS, (The Southern African Times) – Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday got his first shot of China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine in the resort town of Victoria Falls.
On the occasion, the president also launched the second phase of the country’s vaccination drive, as Zimbabwe steps up efforts to fight the pandemic.
Mnangagwa’s vaccination follows that of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who received his second and final shot of China’s Sinopharm vaccine on March 18.
The launch of the second phase of the vaccination program in Victoria Falls, targeting all eligible residents in the resort city, is strategic, as it is aimed at boosting tourism in the country, Mnangagwa said.
Mnangagwa encouraged all Zimbabweans to embrace vaccination as the only way to fight the pandemic and ensure the country embarks on post-COVID-19 economic recovery.
“No one is safe until everyone is safe. I therefore challenge everyone of us in our respective communities to accept the vaccination program and to shun vaccine hesitancy, misinformation and the negative conspiracy theories,” Mnangagwa said.
He noted that vaccination advances Zimbabwe’s global obligation to combat the continued spread and negative socio-economic effects of the pandemic.
Mnangagwa once again paid tribute to China and other countries for donating vaccines to the country.
“I would like to take this opportunity to once again express my profound gratitude to China, Russia, India and indeed an offer that also came from the United Kingdom, for the donation of vaccines.”
“Their support and acts of solidarity have gone a long way in ensuring our access to the life saving doses,” the president said.
The first phase of the national COVID-19 vaccination program launched on Feb. 18 was a success due to the broad acceptance of the vaccine doses by the targeted groups, Mnangagwa said.
“To this end, over 68 percent of the targeted groups in the first phase have been vaccinated. I commend all frontline workers and the security services sector for their dedication with regards to our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”
While the first phase targeted frontline health workers, journalists, prison population as well as ports and immigration officials, the second phase now targets teachers, the clergy, members of the security sector, the elderly and people with chronic conditions, among other priority groups.
On the occasion, leaders of political parties that participated in the last national election in 2018 were also inoculated.
Mnangagwa praised the opposition leaders for embracing vaccination, saying this was historic for the country.
Zimbabwe has so far received two batches of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China, and an additional batch of Sinovac doses which were purchased from the Asian country.
To date, Zimbabwe has recorded 36,717 COVID-19 cases, including 34,447 recoveries and 1,516 deaths.
A total of 44,135 people have been vaccinated against the disease as of Tuesday.