By Nokuthaba Dlamini
A majority of Zimbabweans are reluctant to take the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine amid concerns over the slow pace of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, a survey has revealed.
Zimbabwe started rolling out the Covid-19 vaccination programme on February 18 after receiving a donation of 200 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China.
According to the Health and Child Care ministry, as ofMarch 23 only 44 135 people had received their first dose of the vaccine.
At least 100,000 frontline workers were being targeted for the first phase of the vaccination programme.
The Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA) says a survey it carried countrywide last month revealed that 75 percent of the respondents were unwilling to take the vaccine.
ZCA’s advocacy department conducted the survey to ascertain the uptake levels of the Sinopharm vaccine.
“The findings from the survey indicated that 10.7% of the respondents were willing to be vaccinated, whilst 75.1% were unwilling to be vaccinated,” reads the ZCA report.
“(At least) 14.2% of the total respondents were not sure if they were ready to be vaccinated.”
Respondents were drawn from ZCA’s local structure WhatsApp groups made up of church leaders, women and youths from Chegutu, Gwanda, Chinhoyi, Plumtree, Binga, Hwange, Lupane, Beitbridge, Chirumhanzu, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Gweru, Nkayi and The National Hub, which is present in all provinces.
ZCA said the majority of the 561 respondents drawn from the country’s 10 provinces had previously been vaccinated against other diseases and they trusted the scientific processes behind vaccines.
The respondents were, however, ignorant about the Covid-19 vaccination process and were worried about the efficacy of the Sinopharm vaccine.
“A major finding that was captured during the survey is that a lot of people are ignorant about a plethora of issues around acquisition, administration and side effects about the vaccine,” reads the ZCA report.
“This is a cause for concern as the Covid-19 pandemic has had dire effects globally.”
Those who were reluctant to take the vaccine cited lack of information about the vaccine and its side effects as one of the major reasons why they would not be vaccinated.
Others cited religious convictions, medical reasons such as fears that the vaccine could have life-threatening side effects, chronic diseases and mistrust.
Fourteen percent of the respondents said they would only make decisions about taking the jabs after getting adequate information on the Sinopharm vaccine.
Doctors have previously expressed concern over the slow pace of vaccinations in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights secretary-general, Norman Matara March 10 tweeted: “243 new vaccinations reported yesterday.
“That’s an average of 24 people being vaccinated per day per province. 35,000 vaccinated in three weeks.
“The uptake is extremely low and worrying. Rwanda has vaccinated 200 000 people in four days.”
The government says it is prioritising frontline workers such as health professionals and immigration agents working at borders under the first phase of the immunisation programme.
The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe has so far approved the use of four Covid-19 vaccines, Sinopharm, Sinovac (both from China), Covaxin from India and Sputnik from Russia.