Transparency International Zimbabwe hosted a program today at the Holiday Inn in Harare, on the issue of transparency and accountability on the covid – 19 Vaccine roll out plan.
The Zimbabwe Association Of Doctors For Human Rights ( ZADHR) were also present, represented by Dr Norman Matara, who also addressed delegates on enhancing awareness, fostering transparency and accountability on the covid- 19 vaccine rollout program in Zimbabwe. He also spoke on the myths associated with the covid 19 vaccines as well as other reasons why people are hesitant on taking the vaccine.
Dr Matara said that people are resisting the vaccine because of the myths that have been planted in their minds and insufficient information on it resulting in people being skeptical and developing negative attitudes towards the vaccination program.
He went on to state some of the myths people hold concerning the vaccine such as,
‘’The covid 19 vaccine can affect women’s fertility or that it actually infects one with the virus”.
He also went on state that some people ask why there is no vaccine for long established and incurable diseases such as the common, HIV/AIDS, cancer and other diseases while a new disease such as the Covid-19 already have a vaccine.
He added that many people think if one has already been tested positive for covid 19 before vaccines then there is no need for them to be vaccinated and people think they have to dump the wearing of face masks and sanitizing hands if they get vaccinated.
‘’The myths that our people have will disturb the progress of the covid 19 vaccine roll out programme. Some say if I have already had Covid-19, I don’t need a vaccine and the vaccine means I can stop wearing my masks and stop taking Corona virus precautions proposed by World Health Organisation (WHO) as they assume that they would have developed immunity, but all these myths are not true.’’ Dr Norman Matara said.
Furthermore, he urged people to continue wearing masks and sanitizing, whether they are vaccinated or not so as to protect each other and curb the spread of the deadly virus that the nation and the world is grappling with.
Asked on whether the vaccine gives 100% protection, Dr Matara said that that wasn’t the case.
‘’Vaccines does not protect us 100% but they prevent us from getting hospitalized, which means when you are vaccinated you may suffer from covid 19 but you can not be so seriously ill that you will be hospitalized and you will not die because the immune system will be strong and able to fight because inclination happens in our bodies that’s how our bodies will respond to Covid 19 as the vaccine stimulates the body to produce anti- bodies.’’ Dr Matara said.
The Dr also said that at the moment vaccines are available and the country received another batch of nearly 400 000 new doses yesterday but the challenge we are facing is the acceptability of vaccines as people are resistant because they feel that vaccines are dangerous.
Dr Matare added that the government should be more pro-active in informing people so that they have a better understanding of vaccines as most people are not confident in it, causing difficulty in the rollout.
‘’Most people are not prepared, there was no good communication on how to do it as well as building trust issues with the people because the government only said what it said to themselves and not everyone.’’ He added.
Concerning the development of an HIV vaccine he said the difference was that the HIV virus destroys the immune system and it becomes difficult to come up with a vaccine for it which makes it totally different from the covid 19 virus.
He gave a percentage of people that will agree to covid 19 vaccines which is 51% while 19 % totally rejects and 30 % say they will rather wait.
Meanwhile, Tashinga Zamba of TIZ called for transparency and accountability in the vaccination roll out program.
He described transparency as the public access portal for information so that citizens can understand the decision making processes that affect them and are knowledgeable about the standards to expect from public service officials.
It was reported that, there is a risk of ending up having vaccines only to those linked in politics.