NEW: Religious beliefs block teen vaccinations

The Sunday Mail

online journalist

CERTAIN religious beliefs are affecting government efforts to vaccinate teenagers over 16 against Covid-19, especially in schools, an education official has said.

The Goromonzi-based school inspector, Mr Witness Chonzi, said that while the general adoption of vaccines in schools is commendable, there are instances where certain religious beliefs compel some students to avoid vaccination.
Students over the age of 16 are mostly Lower and Upper Six students.

Mr. Chonzi revealed the development during an awards ceremony held at Destiny Achievers, a private boarding school based in Domboshawa, Goromonzi District.

“Covid-19 cases have increased in recent days, we used to have high cases in growth points or areas like Ruwa, but now we have more cases in rural areas.

“We are doing our best to capture that, to make sure that every school is attached to a health center,” Chonzi said.

“A lot of ground has been covered with regard to vaccination in schools. Adoption has been good, but of course we face challenges, because of certain religious beliefs that are against vaccination, and you find academics who avoid vaccination.

In October, the government announced it would start vaccinating teenagers over the age of 16 against Covid-19, a move that was welcomed by health experts.

Meanwhile, Chonzi also hailed private schools for their role in complementing the government’s efforts to provide education for all.

Destiny Achievers, owned by Ms. Cynthia Gambiza, now has 247 students enrolled, up from 18 in 2019.

“We want to salute women like Madame Gambiza for the role she has played in education.

“Its story is touching, it started with around 18 students but now in less than three years it has an enrollment of 247 students.

“She runs the school well, she turned it around and the school is now one of the best private schools in the district.

“Private schools play a very important role. As a government, we cannot go it alone, due to the large number of people seeking education.

“They (private schools) take the bulk of learners who won’t find a place in public schools but we encourage them to do so legally,” Chonzi said.

Ms. Gambiza thanked the government for supporting her efforts.

“We want to thank the district education officers, they walked with us. It has always been my dream to help Zimbabwe in the education sector.

“But the road was not, being a woman I faced a lot of challenges, which I overcame by the grace of God.”

Ruth R. Culp