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I Got Vaccinated Against COVID-19 In Zimbabwe. Here's How It Went

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This post has hadnotable changes:

  • 2022-19-01—This post has updates on how to get a new vaccine card with a QR code suitable for travel along with my booster experience.

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.

A torn khaki patient record card with my personal information (redacted), information on the vaccine dose (partly redacted) and the clinic’s stamp

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.

People lining up on the grass between a chain link fence and a road with cars driving and parked

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.

A stamped COVID VACCINATION CARD with Zimbabwe’s coat of arms and MOHCC’s logo, a note to not lose the card and the number for additional information (2019/393)

With my second dose, I went home. As for side effects, I didn’t get any besides the hiccups after the first dose.

Closing Thoughts

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.

Updates

31 December 2021

I managed to update my COVID-19 vaccine card. It’s far more complicated than it should be but to do it you need to:

  1. Go to Wilkins Hospital after 2pm with your old COVID-19 vaccine card along with proof that you’re travelling since they’ll only give cards to travellers. They gave me one when I didn’t have proof of travelling, but YMMV.
  2. Go to Floor 1 at the Kaguvi building in order for them to activate the QR code.

The most annoying this is that booster shots are due soon and the card only has space for 2 doses, meaning that I need to do this all over again.

This is what it looks like:

A card with the MOHCC logo and the Zimbabwe Coat of arms

The copen card with my personal information, COVID dose information and a QR code on the other side

January 19 2022

I managed to get a booster shot with the same Sinovac dose. I didn’t have any side effects besides being lazy throughout the day. I would have liked an mRNA dose but they aren’t in Zim.

Please get boosted and if you aren’t even vaccinated, please get vaccinated. Not sure if I’ll need to update my electronic record, but the clinic had the new COVID vaccine cards availible.