Viewing TCV introduction through the lenses of a caregiver

Emelda led from the front as her grandchildren were among the first to be vaccinated, much to the delight of her skeptics.

Joneck Gwatiwa
Emelda Mavhondo community worker
UNICEFZimbabwe/2021/Joneck Gwatiwa
25 July 2021

Masvingo, 2 June 2021- Emelda Mavhondo (56), a Village Health Worker for 13 years from Maregedze Village in Gutu District  has emerged an unlikely hero as she diligently fights misinformation and apathy against the Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine in her community.

“During my routine community visits, there has been great hesitancy towards the vaccine, mainly due to falsehoods circulating on social media that the vaccine will cause infertility as a way to control the population,” she says.

Emelda a caregiver to her four grandchildren trained as a VHW the year she lost her husband to a terminal illness. She takes much pride in her role in the community and is well respected and liked by her fellow villagers.

She recently participated in the community mobilization drive for the integrated Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine campaign raising awareness and seeking the buy in from people in her constituency.

VHWs including Emelda were empowered through cumulative training to ensure that they advocate and educate communities while encouraging caregivers to bring children for vaccination. The availing of resources in time made the job easy for Emelda and others as this enabled them to canvass ahead of schedule.

Emelda speaks passionately about her role in empowering her community.

“I started engaging caregivers two weeks before the commencement of the vaccination campaign so I had enough time to impress new ways of looking at things to those who were initially indifferent about the vaccine.”

Child vaccinated
UNICEFZimbabwe/2021/Joneck Gwatiwa

UNICEF mobilized resources for smooth running of the campaign.

UNICEF and World Health Organization through  Gavi and the Health Development Fund, a multi-donor pooled fund supported by The European Union, SIDA, UK Aid and Irish Aid , partnered with the Government of Zimbabwe to launch a multi-antigen campaign introducing Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TCV) into the routine immunization schedule through an integrated national catch-up TCV vaccination campaign. The catch-up vaccination campaign also integrated the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) and, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination for in and out of schoolgirls and vitamin A supplementation.

UNICEF mobilized funds for procurement of vaccines and supplies and assisted in the procurement, distribution, and installation of Cold Chain Equipment [equipment that ensures that vaccines are kept under required storage conditions].

Gutu District Hospital District Nursing Officer, Shepherd Kuchicha applauded the vaccine and supply management system of the TCV campaign.

“The logistics for vaccines and distribution in our country is probably one of the best in SADC [Southern Africa Development Community]. “There was a time when we ran short of HPV [Human Papiloma Virus] vaccine and it was availed as quickly as possible,” he said.

Vaccine apathy neutralized

Emelda led from the front as her grandchildren were among the first to be vaccinated, much to the delight of her skeptics: “I am happy that I have shown true leadership by getting my own grandchildren to be vaccinated first,” she expounds. “Even the doubting Thomases are left with no option but to trust me.”

Gutu District Hospital Health Promotion Officer Tonderai Chibura said: “Microplanning which roped in all critical stakeholders is credited to the success of the vaccination campaign.”

Emelda could not hide her joy as her grandchildren receiving TCV and HPV doses. “I know for sure that my grandchildren will be safe even in future. The majority are now clear about the vaccination exercise, that is why they are here in their numbers,” she explains pointing in the direction of a social distance observant winding queue.

She said the integration of the TCV is one of the best things to have happened this year in her community since the area is prone to water borne diseases.