BY TENDAI MAKARIPE
THE Retail Pharmacists Association of Zimbabwe (RPAZ) says its members are now fully capacitated to efficiently carry out Covid-19 vaccinations in a development that could help augment government’s efforts.
This comes after government, currently overwhelmed by the high number of people turning up for vaccination, implored the private sector to come on board and help the country achieve its December herd immunity target which presently appears to be a mammoth task.
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, RPAZ secretary-general Luckmore Bhunu said their members were fully trained on how to administer the jab and only await approval by government.
“In partnership with the Harare Institute of Public Health (HIPH), we organised a two-day training programme to equip pharmacists with the skill of administering the Covid-19 vaccine,” Bhunu said.
“It is important to highlight that pharmacists are the custodians of medicines and the ultimate authority in as far as medicines are concerned. They are trained to fully grasp anything that is medicine related which includes vaccines.”
He added that the training was necessary in the sense that despite their knowledge about medicines, pharmacists lack the technical expertise of administering vaccines.
“After the training, pharmacists will go for at least a two-day attachment at a public sector vaccinating institution for them to polish their vaccinating skills before they are finally assessed by a seasoned tutor who teaches vaccinating techniques to clinical students,” Bhunu said.
Following the successful completion of the training, pharmacists will be registered by the Pharmacists Council of Zimbabwe (PCZ) and issued with a practising certificate that will clearly state that they are vaccinating pharmacists.
“Members of the public will have to ask for the certificate from the PCZ to prove that the pharmacist is accredited to vaccinate,” he said.
“Should the pharmacist fail to produce that certificate, members must quickly report to the PCZ or the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe or any nearest police station.”
Some pharmacists who spoke to the Independent this week urged government to expeditiously licence all those that have completed the training so that they can start vaccinating people.
“The move by the association is commendable but one hopes that the process towards attaining vaccinating licenses will be quick so that people have quick access to vaccination,” a Mutare-based pharmacist said.
Health experts see the licensing of pharmacists to vaccinate members of the public as an effective solution to curbing the problem of long queues that have emerged in many vaccination centres across the country.
A sizeable number of people are beginning to heed the call for them to get the jab due to mounting Covid-19 cases and deaths which have rattled communities.
State institutions and private companies have also moved to make it a prerequisite for their staff to get full vaccination.
For instance, government recently announced that only the fully vaccinated are allowed to attend physical church services and learning institutions like the Harare Institute of Technology advised students that one’s vaccination certificate is his or her passport to writing the coming examinations.
Government also last week allowed the reopening of churches only to vaccinated congregants and these measures have triggered massive interest in vaccination, yet facilities are limited.
Currently, people are being vaccinated at public hospitals and clinics.
A snap survey by the Independent revealed that over the past few weeks winding queues have been the order of the day at all public vaccination centres, with some people arriving there as early as 4am to beat the long queues.
Pharmacists believe that getting the nod to vaccinate people will go a long way in decongesting these vaccination centres.