By Nevanji Madanhire
THIS column has been crusading in its call for universal vaccination of the population.
It is disheartening therefore to learn that in the past few weeks the number of those being vaccinated has declined to worrying levels even when the vaccines are now readily available.
It is obvious that this decline is no longer due to the vaccine hesitancy that originally kept people away from the jab.
Complacency has set in mainly due to the fact that Covid-19 infections and deaths have been falling steadily for many weeks now, to the extent that the country has recorded no deaths for several days running.
Many people argue that the lockdowns imposed by the government to curb the spread of the coronavirus have not played any part at all in the apparent containment of the spread of the disease.
They argue the lockdown protocols were never enforced and people went about their business as usual.
True, people continued to commute to and from their workstations; intercity city travel continued with little check; cross-border travel also continued despite the closure of land borders; bars and nightclubs continued to operate in the suburbs; and people continued to gather at funerals and congregate at church gatherings. Despite this, they argue, Covid-19 never became the catastrophe it was touted to be.
They also argue that the so-called new variants such as Alpha and Delta hit only people with underlying conditions and mostly the elderly meaning the country’s youthful population will mostly weather the Covid-19 storm without much ado. But this is all a false sense of security.
Conspiracy theories are consolidating again; the most vibrant in Zimbabwe being that Covid-19 vaccines cause sterility. For a young population such as Zimbabwe’s such banter easily influences decisions since this demographic wishes to start or grow families.
For mainstream media, the Covid-19 story has died and has been thrown to the back of the book.
This is unfortunate since it is still really a living story, especially now that we have gone to a lower level lockdown regime that allows people to mingle again in bars, nightclubs and restaurants.
It does not matter that these places of leisure have been mandated to ensure only vaccinated people are allowed to patronise them.
Everyone knows this rule will be broken just as all the others have been broken before.
The world has not seen the last of the variants. No one knows what will come after Alpha and Delta.
The possibility of a variant that will hit younger people more than the older population looms large. There is no need therefore to let off our guard.
The government, the media and employers should continue to harp on the importance of vaccination.
Vaccines have been shown, the world over, to prevent, not infections themselves, but hospitalisation and death. This is the most important lesson that has to continue to be drilled into doubters’ heads.