The first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine is scheduled to land in South Africa on Monday, February 1. According to the Department of Health deputy director-general Dr Anban Pillay, some of the country’s key politicians could be first in line to receive the jab.

In an interview with the SABC on Monday, Pillay said key government workers will be included in phase 2 of the vaccine roll-out. However, there has been a recommendation that key leaders get the jab before healthcare workers to help reassure the public of the vaccine’s safety.

It is likely that President Cyril Ramaphosa and members of his cabinet will be among those key leaders, following trends in the US where President Joe Biden received the vaccine live on air.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize revealed that the country will receive another 20-million vaccine doses from Pfizer. This brings the total number of vaccines on order to over 42-million.

The first doses will arrive in South Africa on Monday, February 1 at OR Tambo International Airport. From then, the first vaccine will roll out within 10 days and two weeks’ time. More vaccine order announcements will be made once details are finalised.

The Western Cape Government’s vaccine strategy involves three phases:
1. Healthcare workers: Provincial government has estimated that there are approximately 100 000 healthcare workers in the public and private sector. This number will also include community healthcare workers, care workers, and health science students.
2. Essential workers, those in congregate settings (such as care homes), those over 60 years old, and those over 18 years with co-morbidities.
3. General population. This will include anyone over 18. The vaccine has not been tested for safety in pregnant women and in children and will not be administered to these groups.

Mkhize confirmed that taxi drivers will also be included in phase 2, as well as those working in hotels and restaurants.

South Africa plans on using a completely paperless system to manage and monitor the COVID-19 vaccination process. This system is called the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) and is expected to go live when the vaccine roll-out begins early in February.

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