Zimbabwe orders government workers to get COVID vaccinations

World

A man smiles while sitting under a tree in Harare, Zimbabwe, Thursday, Sept, 16, 2021. Zimbabwe has told all government employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or they will not be allowed to come to work. It wasn’t made clear what would happen to those who refused to be vaccinated. (AP Photo/Tsvnagirayi Mukwazhi)

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe’s government has ordered all its employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or they won’t be allowed to come to work.

The Public Service Commission, which is in charge of employment conditions for government workers, issued an internal notice Wednesday ordering employees to get vaccinated.

“All civil servants should be vaccinated without delay, and unvaccinated members shall not be allowed to report for duty,” said the notice, which has been seen by The Associated Press. The commission “urged” heads of government departments to make arrangements for their employees to be vaccinated “and to explain to any who elect not to be vaccinated that they will not be deemed to be working.”

It wasn’t made clear what would happen to employees who refused to be vaccinated, although state-owned newspaper The Herald reported that the government would adopt a policy where unvaccinated workers wouldn’t be paid.

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced the mandatory vaccination program for government workers earlier this week. She didn’t give any timeframe for workers to receive vaccinations and also didn’t clarify what the repercussions would be for any who refused.

The government is Zimbabwe’s biggest employer and has about 500,000 workers.

Zimbabwe is one of the leading countries in Africa in terms of vaccinations, with more than 12% of the country’s 15 million people fully vaccinated. That compares to just 3.6% of people across Africa who have been fully vaccinated, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Zimbabwe has received more than 11 million doses, mainly Chinese Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines.

The southern African nation announced last month that it was opening COVID-19 vaccinations to children between the ages of 14 and 17, one of the first countries in Africa to do that. It was already offering jabs to anyone 18 or older.

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