Beitbridge Informal traders advocate for a decentralised COVID-19 vaccination programme

Vendors and informal traders in Beitbridge Town are calling for decentralisation of the vaccination roll out program to enable ease of access by the sector. 

Informal traders have bemoaned centralisation of the vaccination programme which has resulted in long winding queues. Disregard for social distancing at the queues is also a cause of concern given the surge in COVID-19 infections.

The informal sector is imploring the government to consider targeted vaccinations at strategic points within marketplaces.

Portia Sithole, an informal trader in the District had this to say, “At the moment, vaccines are only accessible at Beitbridge District Hospital. As a result vendors cannot afford to queue for long hours to get vaccinated as this affects sales.”

Decentralisation of the vaccination program through mobile outreach will result in vendors spending less time in queues and at the same time, reducing susceptibility to COVID-19 transmissions.

She said the government can pitch tents at their local markets such as Mbedzi, Mashavire, Mandava, or the rank market to allow vendors to easily access their jabs.

Bose Khuphe echoed the same sentiments while highlighting that the majority of people in Beitbridge are not formally employed and the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected their profits resulting in some families having to eat hand to mouth.

“There is vaccine hesitancy in this area largely because there are very few vaccination centres and people cannot just leave their wares when they are already struggling to make ends meet. If more vaccination centres are added, more people will be encouraged to inoculate,” he said.

Bulawayo recently conducted a COVID-19 vaccination programme targeting the informal sector, which saw thousands of vendors and informal traders accessing the vaccines close to their business centres.

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