Zimbabwean journalist shows confidence in Chinese vaccine following inoculation.
HARARE, Feb. 23-- Zimbabwean journalist and public relations executive, Michael Chideme, is a proud recipient of a COVID-19 vaccination certificate after getting the Sinopharm vaccine on Thursday last week. "I decided to take the vaccine to show leadership so that others can follow suit. I have family members who are reluctant to take the vaccine but now they have seen that I am still alive and well after taking it," Chideme told Xinhua, saying that he was confident that the vaccine is safe and would protect him in the future. The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists president was among the first Zimbabweans to be inoculated locally, taking his jab soon after Vice President and Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga received his shot. Zimbabwe received a batch of COVID-19 vaccines from China on Feb. 15, with Chiwenga being the first to be inoculated locally. The father of six and grandfather of one said if there were still some people who were skeptical about the safety of the vaccine, they should observe those who had been inoculated to see if they developed side effects. "I'm still doing exercises. I run every morning, I think about 13 km, and I share with them my exercising experiences," he said. "I took the vaccine for my family. I took it for my (extended) family members. I took it for the people that I work with. I took it for my friends so that they can also have confidence in the vaccine." Tests conducted by the Zimbabwean government have shown that the vaccine's efficacy is 79 percent. Chideme said the decision to take the vaccine was also based on the need to stay safe during the pandemic, saying that the data shows as of Feb. 21, the number of COVID-19 infections in his country has risen to 35,796, including 1,436 deaths. To him, said Chideme, the COVID-19 vaccine was just like any other he had taken since childhood. "I have taken vaccines such as BCG and polio as a child and these haven't killed me. I'm confident that the COVID-19 vaccine that I took will not kill me either. I feel it's the protection that I need." The vaccination is voluntary and free of charge, but President Emmerson Mnangagwa has urged all Zimbabweans to be inoculated in order to defeat the pandemic. "I feel inoculations are the first step towards normalcy in the country because once you have immunity, we open up and do what other countries are doing," he said. "It also boosts confidence knowing that everybody has been vaccinated. So we should all urge everybody to get vaccinated so that we have herd immunity," he said. Chideme said that he missed attending church service but was confident that places of worship -- currently closed under a national lockdown to curb the spread of the virus -- would be opened in due course as more people were vaccinated and the rate of infections declined. The first phase of the vaccination program targets frontline workers, such as health personnel, immigration and customs officers, police, military and journalists.Xinhua