Zimbabwe starts COVID-19 vaccinations, vice-president gets first shot

Zimbabwean Vice-President and Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga receives a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination in Harare, Zimbabwe, February 18, 2021. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe kicked-off its COVID-19 vaccination programme on Thursday after receiving a donation of 200,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China earlier in the week.

Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles as the country’s health minister, was the first to receive the jab, at Harare’s Wilkins Hospital.

Zimbabwe aims to vaccinate around 60,000 healthcare and other frontline workers in the first round of vaccinations. The elderly and those with chronic conditions will follow.

The southern African country has so far reported more than 35,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 1,400 deaths.

Chiwenga told Parliament on Tuesday that Zimbabwe’s vaccination programme, which is free of charge, was targeting at least 10 million people, roughly 60% of the population.

Reporting by Reporting Nelson Banya; Editing by Alex Richardson