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Covid-19 vaccination extended to 16-year olds

All teenagers aged 16 and over should now be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Schools, colleges, vaccination centres and others are now required to start vaccinating teenagers aged 16 and 17 with the Sinovac vaccine, the first to be approved for this age group.

Last night Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Professor Amon Murwira, in his capacity as Acting Minister of Health and Child Care, said specialist paediatricians, on the basis of the best available data, had now recommended that 16 and 17-year olds should now be vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine, one of the vaccines already approved by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) for adults.

“Globally and nationally, public health discussions have been on-going regarding extending vaccination to children and other special groups such as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.”

“Based on the available scientific data in line with the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe guidance, the specialist paediatricians have recommended the vaccination of the 16 to 17 years’ age group with the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine.

“The protocol for the younger age groups is still under consideration. The ministry wishes to advise the public that Covid-19 vaccination of the 16 to 17 years’ age group has been approved.

“All the provinces, secondary schools, colleges, universities and vaccination centres are hereby required to commence the vaccination campaign of this age group with immediate effect,” said Prof Murwira.

Zimbabwe has approved and is using a number of vaccines on its populations including, Sinopharm and Sputinik-V among others on its population.

But with the present results and local recommendations only Sinovac has so far been exclusively recommended to the 16 and 17 year olds. “For the avoidance of doubt the only vaccine type eligible for this age group is the Sinovac vaccine,” reiterated Minister Murwira.

He also reminded that the Government was still determined to achieve herd immunity by year-end.

“The Government of Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of Health and Child Care, is determined that Zimbabwe achieves herd immunity by the end of December 2021,” said Minister Murwira.

Minister Murwira also reminded the citizenry to continue adhering to the Covid-19 containment protocols.

Health experts are on record that the pandemic has not yet been defeated as its threat continues to hover perilously.

“In the absence of effective medical and health interventions, while adopting physical distancing and masking, herd immunity remains the unmet need for the Zimbabwean population.

“The Government is accelerating the implementation of the national vaccination programme,” said Minister Murwira.

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