The Zimbabwean government announced Wednesday that the COVID-19 vaccination is now open for 14 to 17 year age groups, as it seeks to ramp up inoculation and reach herd immunity by year-end.
Until now, the vaccination program has been open to people aged 18 years and above.
“Based on the advice of scientists, the vaccination program will be extended to the 14 to 17 year age group,” Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said during a post-cabinet media briefing.
The minister said schools that were scheduled to reopen on June 28 for the second term but remained closed due to the current lockdown, will now reopen on Aug. 30 for examination classes and Sept. 6 for non-examination classes.
Inter-city and intra-city transportation for learners will be allowed during the re-opening of schools, subject to monitoring by law enforcement agencies.
The Zimbabwean government extended the Level 4 nationwide lockdown that has been in place for the past two months by another two weeks.
In announcing the extension, Mutsvangwa said while there had been a notable decrease in COVID-19 infections and deaths, more efforts were still required to contain the third wave.
She said restaurants are now allowed to re-open for sit-in patrons who are fully vaccinated upon production of vaccination cards and strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
She said the government has so far acquired 13 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, mainly from China, out of the 20 million required in order for the country to achieve herd immunity.
She said during the month of September, Zimbabwe is expected to receive another 2.5 million doses of vaccines under direct purchase, and 943,200 doses under the COVAX program.
The country has administered a total of 3,888,804 doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far while 1,506,445 people have been fully vaccinated.
“Given the current vaccination statistics, Cabinet is confident that herd immunity will be achieved by December 2021,” Mutsvangwa said.
She said in the spirit of regional cooperation and sisterly nationhood, the Zimbabwean government will donate 20,000 doses of vaccines to Namibia.