The Sunday Mail
Tanyaradzwa Rusike and Nokuthula Dube
CLOSE to 99 percent of Government workers in Zimbabwe have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 ahead of next month’s deadline by which all civil servants must be immunised or face disciplinary action.
This comes as authorities have set in motion a plan to set up vaccination centres in schools.
This is expected to inject further impetus into the country’s immunisation programme, which was beginning to lose momentum with the passing of the third wave of the coronavirus.
Data obtained from the Public Service Commission (PSC) shows that Mashonaland Central has the highest percentage of fully vaccinated public sector workers followed by Manicaland and Masvingo.
Full vaccination entails getting two jabs of the vaccines which have been authorised for use in Zimbabwe.
To date, 99,68 percent of Government workers stationed in Harare have been fully immunised, while 99,95 percent of those in Bulawayo have received their Covid-19 jabs.
According to the official PSC schedule, in Mashonaland West (99,86 percent), Mashonaland East (99,94 percent), Mashonaland Central (99,96 percent), Manicaland (99,95 percent), Midlands (99,57 percent), Masvingo (99,95), Matabeleland North (99,72 percent) and Matabeleland South (99,72 percent) of all public sector workers have been fully vaccinated.
Zimbabwe has a 300 000-strong civil service staff compliment.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said vaccine uptake within the public service was testament to the efficacy of Government’s “no work, no pay” policy.
He said the Government stands by its decision to withhold unvaccinated workers’ remuneration.
“This development shows that we are almost there as a country in achieving herd immunity,” said Prof Mavima.
“It also means that the Government has been successful in rolling out the vaccination programme.
“As I have said previously, unvaccinated public sector workers will still be given priority when they want to get their jabs.
“By getting vaccinated it means that those who interact with our workers are now protected from the deadly coronavirus and the workplace will also be a safer place.
“However, those who are not yet vaccinated are being encouraged to do so because our no vaccination, no pay policy still stands.”
Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions secretary-general Mr David Dzatsunga said the vaccination of civil servants has helped improve workplace productivity.
“Vaccination of civil servants is important because it makes the work environment safe,” he said.
“Since everyone can attend to his or her work without disturbance, it means there will be increased productivity.”
In September, the Government promulgated Statutory Instrument 234 which compelled all public sector workers to be immunised by October 15 or face disciplinary action.
Those with valid excuses for not being vaccinated were given up to December 31 to get their jabs.
Reads SI 234: “Provided that if the head of Ministry or head of department is satisfied that any member of the Public Service who is employed in that Ministry or department has a reasonable excuse for not being fully vaccinated by the 15th October, 2021 (which excuse shall be recorded in writing and promptly notified by the head concerned to the Commission), the head concerned may in relation to that member extend the vaccine mandate to no later than 31 December, 2021.”
Civil servants had early priority when the national vaccination campaign began.
Most African countries have imposed vaccine mandates within their civil service.
Vaccination in schools
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Health and Child Care approved the use of the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine for 16 and 17-year-olds.
The Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr John Mangwiro, said the Government will soon set up temporary vaccination centres at schools to ensure that teenagers who qualify for vaccination receive their jabs with minimum hassles.
“We have outreach teams which will go there and vaccinate children.
“It can be in schools, churches or at grinding mills, everywhere there will be a vaccination centre.
“We cannot say a school that is for instance 70km away is the only one offering vaccination because schools mostly have approximately a 1 000 or more kids.
“It would be inconvenient for others. Therefore, it would be best for us to send our teams directly to the schools.
“When we go there and vaccinate 400 pupils that would be good.
“We are actually going into schools whether it’s a day or boarding school.
“It will make our work easier with the assistance of the teachers and the teams we already have on the ground now.”