Government will aim to have at least 67% of South Africa’s population vaccinated by the end of 2021, said Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize during a briefing on Sunday, December 3. That amounts to over 40 million residents.

He went on to explain the vaccine rollout strategy that will be implemented when the vaccine arrives in the country in the second quarter of the year.

“The vaccines will need to be made available quickly so that most of our citizens are covered by the end of the first year of rollout – this year,” Mkhize said.

The vaccine will be rolled out in phases, starting with the frontline healthcare workers. Phase two will include the elderly and those with co-morbidities among others.

Phase I of the vaccine rollout will target frontline workers, which represents a target population of 1 250 000.

Phase II will target essential workers, with a target population of 2 500 000, persons in congregate settings (1 100 000); persons older than 60 years (5 000 000) and persons older than 18 years with co-morbidities (8 000 000).

Phase III of the rollout will target all other persons over the age of 18, targeting 22 500 000 of the population.

“We have approached the Solidarity Fund to assist in the procurement process,” Mkhize added. “Additionally we have embarked on Public Private Partnerships with very good outcomes and we have approached medical aids to be part of the co-financing”.

Furthermore, he added that the Health Department will do everything in their power to acquire the vaccine sooner than the second quarter of this year. “We are doing everything we can to get to the manufacturers earlier, we are targeting February,” he said.

Dr Anban Pillay said: “COVAX is working hard to bring the date forward, but there is no firm date yet. We’ve also been in bilateral discussions and are fairly confident we will have vaccines in quarter one.”

“We are in sensitive discussions [with manufactrers]. I have been involved in some of these discussions and can mention a few of them, Astra Zeneca, Moderna, etc.”

The Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) chairperson, professor Barry Schoub said that some 289 vaccines are currently in development across the world, although in various stages.

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Article written by

Anita Froneman