Zimbabwe (where I live) started its COVID-19 vaccine rollout in February. They initially started with high risk groups before opening it up to everyone over 18. The phases are rather confusing (much like the rest of their response to COVID honestly), but when my mom told me that we could now get vaccinated against COVID at the local health clinic, I went and got it. Here’s how it went.
Getting The First Dose
I got to the health clinic half an hour before opening, joining my mom and the one person who works at home. There was a crowd, but it was around 40 people including a few people who went in for an HIV test.
Once it opened, it took 90 minutes for me to get my first jab. I spent more time waiting for the jab and filling paperwork than actually getting the lab. As for the jab itself, it felt like a tiny pinch after which I felt nothing and go no sweets or bandages. They didn’t have the proper vaccination booklet at the time so I got a torn patient record card to use in the meantime.
I got Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine which is the most common dose they have availible in Zimbabwe. I trust it though I wish they were more forthcoming with the data. We don’t have any of those fancy mRNA vaccines which the rich countries have bought up many times over in addition to the cold chain issues. For what it’s worth, my sister who lives in Qatar managed to get Pfizer/BioNTech’s Comirnaty.
After the jab, I felt fine although I came down with a bad case of the hiccups.Now for the four week wait till the next shot!
The Second Dose
A month later, I went back for the second dose and it was far busier. Turns out they didn’t have any Sinovac doses the day before in addition to first people getting priority. At this time, the people getting their first doses were receiving Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
Things went much slower and I wish I took my mum’s advice to cut in line since they didn’t care about order once inside. Once she was done, I took her home since the line wasn’t going any faster.
Three hours after opening, I managed to get the jab and an upgraded-yet-unofficial COVID-19 vaccine record certificate which we can switch out for the proper vaccine passport. Regarding the vaccine passport, while requiring proof of vaccination isn’t new and not all countries will mandate it, I’m worried that they’ll overlook how inequal the COVID-19 vaccine distribution is. Worse still, there isn’t any incentive to fix it since countries need to do what’s best for their citizens. Thing is, is letting large swatches of the planet unvaccinated making a breeding ground for escape variants in a country’s citizens best interest? I don’t think so.
With my second dose, I went home. As for side effects, I didn’t get any besides the hiccups after the first dose.
So that’s my experience getting vaccinated against COVID in Zimbabwe. I thought I would have to wait a while to get vaccinated, but I’m glad that the government was able to start vaccinating when they could (though they should pick up the pace) with some doses they bought and donations from China, India and Russia. I also commend all the nurses and doctors who are working through this crisis.
As for the whole mask thing I’ll keep wearing mine. Sure America’s CDC says that vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks, but it’s still the law here and I’m not sure if vaccines prevent transmission yet. I don’t get how angry some people are at people who want to keep wearing masks (even outside). Honestly, I hope public mask wearing (for people who are sick and have allergies) continues after the pandemic.
Anyone over the age of 18 is able to get vaccinated and I strongly suggest that you do if you can. As of publishing, they’re hard to find though they promise a fresh batch soon. I do hope we can get some solid progress on the rollout because if January was any indication, we’re in trouble if COVID spreads.