By Nkosana Dlamini
Government has allayed fears that intervals in excess of the mandatory 14 days required for one to be injected with the two Covid-19 vaccines could result in one’s death, among some dreaded negative effects on one’s health.
This follows concerns raised by backbenchers in parliament Wednesday some people injected with the first jab would spend almost 28 days without taking the second one owing to ongoing confusion in the procurement and administering of the national inoculation exercise.
Since the vaccination drive started, according to government, 1 674 710 had taken their first jab while 798 880 had taken the second one, signalling a discomforting mismatch in the ratios of taking the life-saving drug.
Responding to the MPs, Higher and Tertiary Education minister Amon Murwira, standing in for Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga said Zimbabweans should not be worried about the prescription on the 14-day period.
“…We are saying when people have received the first jab, they will receive their second jab after 14 days. It is not clockwork.
“So, people should not be worried about it. It will still be valid that they will receive their second jab even after 20 days. That is what we are saying,” Murirwa said.
Norton legislator Temba Mliswa was not convinced, telling the Speaker that, “scientists were not stupid” in prescribing the 14-day grace period between the jabs.
Mliswa said the fact that there is a stipulated period in between the two mandatory jabs was designed in the same way one could take their antibiotics.
“You have a course and you cannot miss one for it to be effective. The fact that you miss, it is not effective anymore and it has to be science to tell us why the scientists came with those days.
“The scientists were not stupid because they could have said anytime and the real clarity at the end of the day is that if there are 1.4 million vaccines and I have been injected at Norton Hospital, there must be one for me there so that 14 days is there. The worrying bit is that they are not there,” he said.
Murwira stuck to his guns, insisting no one will die as a result of taking the second jab long after the 14-day waiting period.
Said the minister, “The answer is scientific. It is a minimum of 14 days. Why? Because within the 14 days, the first jab will be taking effect.
“In actual fact, it will be triggering an immune response. After that, some studies are even showing that the more the delay, the better – scientific studies.
“Anyway, the minimum is 14 days. If you go after 30 days, it does not kill anyone. It actually could trigger a stronger immune response.
“So, this is the issue that we are doing. It is very scientific what I am saying.”
Murwira was quick to assure MPs that government’s vaccine procurement method was systematic and tailored to meet the set requirements.
“Zimbabwe has ordered enough vaccines and Zimbabwe is receiving vaccines monthly to the extent that last week alone, we received 1.5 million.
“At this moment, the happy thing is that our people are coming for vaccination in numbers and we really appreciate that to the extent that at this moment, it is us who have to work very hard on methods to ensure that our people are vaccinated quickly and we are doing that.”