(Bloomberg) -- In Zimbabwe’s second-biggest city government medical staff are going door-to-door with Covid-19 vaccines in a bid to boost a stalled vaccine program in the latest indication of how Africa’s drive has now switched from sourcing doses to getting people to take them.
The two-week program in the city of Bulawayo, where at least 650,000 people live, began on Jan. 13 and will utilize both health ministry staff and city officials, according to a statement on Thursday. Mobile vaccination sites have also been established to administer initial, second and booster doses.
The step taken by city authorities speaks to the challenge many African countries are facing. Earlier in the pandemic African countries found themselves at the back of the queue for vaccines. Now, many are struggling to administer them because of weak health systems or a reluctance to take them among the population.
Some “residents are refusing to get vaccinated,” said Maphios Siamuchembu, the Bulawayo Provincial Medical Director, in an interview. “We have adequate vaccine doses and have no problem with human resources.”
With just 10.4% of Africa’s 1.2 billion people having received a full Covid-19 vaccine course, the continent lags behind the rest of the world. In the U.S. 62% of the population has received a full course of inoculations and that figure is 72% for the European Union.
While Africa has received 570 million vaccine doses, only 353 million have been administered, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Zimbabwe has administered 7.49 million of the 16.4 million doses it has received. Zimbabwe has a population of about 14.8 million people.
The door to door program will have to be extended beyond the initial two-weeks, Siamuchembu said.
“Its one of the strategies which we will have to use to get people vaccinated,” he said.
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