By Nqobile Tshili
Church leaders have endorsed the planned Covid-19 vaccination programme that the country is set to roll out saying the move is in the public interest.
Zimbabwe is expected to receive its first batch of Covid-19 vaccines next Monday with more doses expected next month.
Government has said it targets to vaccinate 10 million people and has set aside US$100 million for the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccines.
The private sector is expected to also provide resources for the procurement of the vaccines which will be free of charge and offered to volunteers.
Religious leaders yesterday said members of the public should embrace the Covid-19 vaccine as it is meant to save lives.
The pandemic had by Tuesday killed 1 353 in the country while infecting 34 781.
Globally, the pandemic has killed more than 2 million people and infected 107 million people and the vaccination being rolled out in most countries is viewed as a measure to reduce infections.
Roman Catholic Church Bulawayo Archbishop Alex Thomas said Covid-19 has killed so many people and the vaccine is part of measures being put in place to protect members of the public.
“This is a virus that attacks humans and we need to protect ourselves by all means. Right from the beginning we have been advising people to self-isolate, masking up, washing their hands and so forth. Now a vaccine has been found. Of course, it has not been proved to be 100 percent effective but it seems to be working in most parts of the world. So, when it is available people should take it,” said Archbishop Thomas.
He discouraged members of the public from peddling falsehoods and conspiracy theories regarding the vaccine saying some of the people commenting on it were ill-informed.
“Those spreading falsehoods do not have scientific facts. The scientific fact is that while it does not have 100 percent efficacy, the possibility of protection is higher. I don’t think we need to be worried about it and people should be willing to take the vaccine without being forced. If I get an opportunity, I will take it. Pope Francis himself, the head of the Roman Catholic Church has taken it in Rome. His action was a good sign and he was encouraging others to do it as well,” he said.
Archbishop Thomas said it was important that frontline workers in the health sector be prioritised in the vaccination programme.
Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA) Zimbabwe West Union Conference (ZWUC) president Pastor Micah Choga said it was important for the public to be inoculated against Covid-19.
He said vaccines have existed since time immemorial for the goodness of humanity hence there is no need for the public to be skeptical about this one.
“We are an organisation that believes in health and we are informed by the bible. Also, we have over 500 hospitals and clinics worldwide. That actually says we are not against the immunisation of people. Actually, as a church we have a health department because we believe that there is a relationship between physical wellbeing and the spirituality of the individual.So as such we are not against the idea of people getting vaccinated especially if it is for the welfare of the public because our interest is not just on the welfare of our members but the welfare of the general public,” he said.
Sheikh Isaac Ali, who is also one of the leaders in the Muslim Community in Bulawayo said it is within the Islamic region for members of the public to be vaccinated.
“Vaccination is highly encouraged because when you are vaccinated you are not doing for yourself but others as well. Because there is a narration of Prophet Mohammed in the Koran which says none of you truly believe until you wish for your brother what you want for yourself. If we call ourselves believers, we have to consider others and wish for them what we wish for ourselves. Everyone wishes for good health so when you are vaccinated you are preventing the virus from spreading,” said Sheikh Ali.
He said the public should understand that the pandemic has not been discriminatory in infecting people hence society should also not be selective in taking up the Covid-19 vaccine.
Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe Bulawayo chairman Pastor Trevor Masuku said his organisation has a taskforce assessing the vaccines being rolled out globally and will soon come up with its position with regards to the safety of vaccines.
“But what we continue to do is to encourage people to follow World Health Organisation protocols in terms of keeping safe. Making sure that they stay at home unless there is a reason for leaving home, they sanitise and make sure that they wear a mask when they leave home. We will only come up with an official position after our taskforce is done with what they are doing,” said Pastor Masuku. The Chronicle.