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Reflection: Discussing the Zimbabwean Vaccination Program with your Family

The coronavirus disease has ravaged the world and Zimbabwe has not been spared. As of 14 February 2021, the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that at least 35 thousand Zimbabweans have contracted the COVID-19 virus, and of that number at least 3 thousand are still active cases — and 1400 people have died. 1

This virus has taken a lot from us as individuals, families, organisations and as a nation. However, there is the hope of an end that has been presented by the advent of vaccines.

However, there have been mixed feelings about the vaccines, especially around their trustworthiness, their effectiveness and their side-effects. This creates difficult conversations with the family — and this article is to help have healthy and productive conversations.

What we know so far about the vaccination program in Zimbabwe

On the 12th of February 2021, the Government of Zimbabwe released a vaccination roadmap. The summary of it is that Zimbabwe has received a consignment of 200 thousand Sinopharm vaccines from China which arrived on the 15th of February and they have already ordered another consignment of 600 thousand of the same vaccine from China. 2

The plan is to vaccinate Zimbabweans on a voluntary basis based on their vulnerability to the coronavirus disease, hence, the first phase of the vaccine will focus on healthcare workers, the second phase will focus on those with underlying conditions like the elderly, the third phase will focus on school workers and then the rest of the country will get vaccinated.

Also, the UK has donated 1.1 million vaccines to Zimbabwe, and it is expected to arrive in Zimbabwe if the Government of Zimbabwe completes the paperwork soon. 3

Speaking with your family about these vaccines

We know that you are worried and hesitant even about these vaccines. We understand these concerns. And your family has the same concern too — that uncle you think is a “conspiracy theorist” is also just concerned. So here are ways you can help guide these difficult conversations with your family

1. Be loving and empathetic

It is good to understand that everyone is concerned, so instead of calling your family members names like “conspiracy theorist”, you should seek first to understand and then you will be understood. Show that your position and understanding of the vaccines and the vaccination program is out of your love for them and vaccination. Allow them to speak and do not try to speak over them and be empathetic. Show that what might be wrong is their understanding of facts, not them — see number 3.

2. Assure them instead of fear-mongering

Always try to assure them that all this will be over soon and that they have to play their role in making it to be over. Painting an apocalyptic doomsday scenario will only make them nervous and unsettle them. If you have children especially, help them understand that for them to go back to play with their friends, to visit Nana and Grandpa they have to play their little but important role of washing hands, sanitisation and the wearing of masks.

3. Stick to science and facts

Helping other people to understand what next step to take, whether to take the vaccine or not, you will need to be factual in your arguments. The best sources for COVI-19 related facts are The Ministry of Health and Child Care, the World Health Organisation and registered and licenced medical professionals. There are people you trust like journalists, pastors and your smart relatives, they may be influential but please always rely on scientists and official science bodies when it comes to medical advice — they helped us out of the Spanish flu, polio and smallpox after all, so we can trust them again. Also, never castigate your relative based on the information they received on their soccer group, rather patiently train them on how to verify sources before believing them as truth.

In summary, here are 5 quick fact-facts about the COVID-19 vaccine

1. There is no microchip in the vaccine that will be put to track you. 4

2. Bill Gates is not trying to kill the world population through the vaccine. 5

3. The vaccine will not and cannot change your DNA. 6

4. COVID-19 vaccines are not the same — click here to see their difference. 7

5. Zumbani DOES NOT cure the coronavirus disease. 8

References

1. Ministry of Health and Childcare tweet on 14 February 2021 at 9.21 PM. Link: https://twitter.com/MoHCCZim/status/1361032952189222915?s=20

2. Newsday Reported The Acquisition of the Vaccine, Based on Nick Mangwana’s Tweet, The Government Spokesperson. Link: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2021/02/zim-rolls-out-covid-19-vaccine-next-week/

3. UK Ambassador To Zimbabwe Talks About How The UK Has Provided Vaccines on an Interview With Trevor Ncube. Link: https://twitter.com/DrGGandawa/status/1359050808638242817?s=20

4. Fact Check On Microchips. Link: https://www.factcheck.org/2020/12/covid-19-vaccines-dont-have-patient-tracking-devices/

5. Fact Check on Bill Gates and Population Reduction Claims. Link: https://apnews.com/article/fact-checking-afs:Content:9917566788

6. Fact Check on How mRNA Vaccines Cannot Change Your DNA. Link: https://fullfact.org/online/rna-vaccine-covid/

7. An In-depth On The Different Type of Vaccines by World Health Organisation. Link: https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/the-race-for-a-covid-19-vaccine-explained

8. WHO Zimbabwe fact-checks that steaming with Zumbani is not an effective treatment against COVID-19. Link: https://twitter.com/WHO_Zimbabwe/status/1357559705393053696?s=20

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