SA’s leaders to be among the first for Covid jabs to ‘publicly demonstrate confidence’ that vaccine is safe

As South Africa prepares to take delivery of its first vaccine shipment Monday, Health minister Zweli Mkhize has announced an additional 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

Mkhize told the Sunday Times that these vaccines have been “secured” and that government was now just awaiting manufacturers to submit final agreements with details of delivery dates and exact amounts.

The health minister added that the country’s leaders could ‘jump the line’ and be first in line for the Covid-19 shots to “show confidence” in the vaccines.

“We are negotiating, largely with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, but some of it is coming via the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team and Covax. We are reasonably comfortable that what we have paid for, signed for, and are negotiating to cover the numbers that we are looking to vaccinate.”

Adequate vaccine storage infrastructure

Mkhize also confirmed that the country has enough storage space to safely secure the vaccines at the correct temperatures, and that government plans to issue a formal tender process next week.

Mkhize’s surprise announcement would mean that the country has secured the supply of over 40 million vaccine doses, bringing it much closer to the goal of vaccinating two-thirds of the population.

In a briefing this Wednesday, Mkhize confirmed that one million dosages of the vaccine are scheduled to leave India Sunday 31 January, and due to arrive in the country on Monday, 1 February.

A further 500,000 vaccine shots are expected in the country later in February.

Other key points from Wednesday’s briefing

  • Government is the sole purchaser of vaccines and will distribute it to provincial governments and the private sector;
  • South Africa will begin vaccinating by targeting its 1.25 million health workers and the most vulnerable;
  • The target is to vaccinate 67% of the population by the end of the year so as to achieve herd immunity;
  • The vaccination programme will be based on a pre-vaccination registration and appointment system;
  • All those vaccinated will be placed on a national register and provided with a vaccination card.

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Presh JM Reporter

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