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South Africans travelling to Zimbabwe for vaccination

SOUTH African travellers wanting to get vaccinated can now travel to Zimbabwe for a quick vaxcation, following approval for Healthpoint Hospital in Harare to privately vaccinate foreign tourists.

The hospital is offering vaccinations to foreigners for just USD100 (R1 375) for both doses of a two-dose vaccination, and is currently in discussions with Zimbabwean government officials about the possibility of launching a similar programme in Victoria Falls, which would be administered by Healthpoint’s partner, Ace Ambulances.

Zimbabwe pulled well ahead of South Africa some time ago with regard to COVID vaccinations, having commenced the roll-out of its programme in February. The country has already made extensive inroads into populations in tourism hotspots, such as Victoria Falls. It’s now driving ahead with its aim to achieve herd immunity across the country.

Owner of Healthpoint Hospital, Peter Annesley, told Travel News that, as Zimbabwe was well on its way to achieving herd immunity for its residents, the government had now been able to turn its attention to approving programmes that allowed tourists to be vaccinated within Zimbabwe, which would be key to unlocking the recovery of Zimbabwe’s tourism industry.

He explained that Zimbabwe’s quick access to vaccines had been achieved through a private-public collaboration between Zimbabwean government officials, the Chinese Ambassador in Zimbabwe and a few high-profile Chinese investors, and this had enabled Zimbabwe to secure a substantial number of COVID-19 vaccination doses.

With help from the same influential Chinese investors’ engagements with government, Healthpoint had been selected as the first health care facility in Zimbabwe with authority to administer COVID vaccinations privately and had subsequently secured a substantial number of vaccine doses, allowing their private vaccination programme to commence in Harare about eight weeks ago, overseen by a Ministry of Health official.

“The government is mindful that Zimbabwean residents should be charged a minimal amount to get vaccinated, so we charge Zimbabwean residents USD40 (R548) in total for a two-dose vaccination, while foreigners are charged USD100 (R1 375) for their two-dose vaccine. This works out to only USD50 (R684) per dose,” said Peter.

He added that travellers were already pouring into Harare from all parts of South Africa to be vaccinated, and Zimbabwe welcomed travellers to come to Harare for this purpose, saying that while there was no need to book for vaccines it was advisable to contact Healthpoint Hospital (www.healthpoint.africa) ahead of arranging flights to ensure that they had sufficient stock for the intended first and second vaccination dates.

“Zimbabwe has thrown its weight behind the Chinese, Russian and Indian vaccines, which are all two-dose vaccines that can be taken two weeks apart. This means that travellers can either plan a two-week holiday around Zimbabwe or fly into Harare for a morning and then return two weeks later. We are seeing a lot of uptake for the latter arrangement,” says Peter.

Responding to queries about the efficacy of these vaccines and whether travellers would be allowed access to Western countries on the basis of having been vaccinated with these particular brands, Peter explained that the bulk of the stock available in Zimbabwe comprised the Chinese-made Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines.

“Both of these vaccines have recently been approved by WHO and have been proven just as safe as Western vaccine options.” He added that travel advisories would soon be updated to take WHO’s approval of these vaccines into account.

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