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20% health workers shun vaccination, Govt gives two weeks ‘ultimatum’

By Mutsa Makuvaza

GOVERNMENT says 20 percent of its health workers have not presented themselves for Covid-19 vaccination despite being given top priority to do so, and are now considered a health threat to colleagues and the patients they serve.

As a last resort push for them to get vaccinated, Government has handed them a two weeks window period to get the jabs, failure which they won’t qualify for the Covid-19 infection compensation.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said if such health workers contract Covid-19 in the line of duty after July 14, they will no longer receive special compensation which the Government has been paying those affected.

She said after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting that the Government had been paying US$1 000 and US$600 depending on grade for each health worker who falls sick but now those who remain unvaccinated are considered a health threat.

Last week, Treasury released $75 million towards the compensation. Of the 4 444 health workers so far infected,432 have already received their payouts.

The Health Services Board (HSB) has approved the payments to another 2 196 with funds already allocated able to cover about 1 367 workers so further allocations are required.

“Noting that the frontline staff were given an opportunity to vaccinate ahead of others, the nation is advised that a considerable number of frontline workers, 20 percent, have still not presented themselves for vaccination,” said Mutsvangwa.

“Given the risk this poses not only to other workers but also to patients, Cabinet set 14 July 2021 as the deadline for the vaccination of the frontline workers. After this date, those who not vaccinated will not receive Covid-19 insurance payouts. For the avoidance of doubt, those vaccinated staff members who test positive will, however, still be eligible for the Covid-19 insurance pay out,” she said.

Mutsvangwa said Vice President Constantino Chiwenga — in his capacity as Health and Child CareMinister — updated Cabinet on the procurement of vaccines, which is on a positive trajectorywith Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube saying last week that adequate funds were available.

Besides the 500 000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines that arrived last Saturday, bringing the total number of doses delivered to 2,26 million, Mutsvangwa said two million doses of Sinovac vaccine would arrive by the end of this week, bringing the total to 4,26 million.

A further 1,5 million doses were in the middle of next month, another 1,5 million doses by August and another 1,5 million doses by September.

Vaccination rates are already approaching 25 000 doses a day, roughly 750 000 doses a month, and those in charge have already been talking about taking the rate quickly to over 1 million doses a month.

“Cabinet would like to reassure the nation that measures are in place to safeguard health. In addition, the nation is advised that travellers coming from countries with high risk of the alpha and delta Covid-19 variants of concern shall be quarantined in a designated hotel at their own expense and have PCR test conducted at their own expense on arrival, tested on day three, tested on day five, and tested on day 10.” ■

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