All South Africans aged 18 and older could possibly begin receiving their doses of Covid-19 vaccinations within days. New health minister Dr Joe Phaahla confirmed on Monday that his department was speaking to cabinet about opening vaccination sites for all adults.
Phaahla was speaking in a radio interview with 702 on Monday. “We are in further consultation with leaders in cabinet. Probably, if not this week, the latest beginning of next week and no later than Monday,” he said about a possible date.
Phaahla said that the slow vaccination rates currently seen in Mzansi were exacerbating disease transmission and overwhelming health systems.
“After a good turnout in the beginning of the vaccination programme, [in] the last one and a half weeks the turnout has been reducing,” he added and said that just under 10 million people have been vaccinated. “Just two weeks ago we had a problem with our supplies as the uptake was quite good at the time. Some of the deliveries didn’t turn out, so a number of our stations were running out of vaccines.”
Vaccination sites have since seen some quiet spells.
The new minister further suggested that the country remain on level three of lockdown restrictions.
He said that while the numbers were down marginally, hospitals were still under enormous pressure and not enough South Africans were getting the jab.
According to the World Health Organization, more cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the first months of 2021 than the whole of 2020.
“We have got to try everything to encourage people and motivate people to remain resilient in this battle.”
“Clearly the fight against Covid can be equated to a marathon rather than a sprint. We have got to be resilient if we are going to win this battle,” Phaahla said.
He added, “The third wave is still very strongly with us. We are very encouraged that Gauteng numbers have been steadily going down. You can see that Gauteng is currently out of the Blitzkrieg. The Western Cape has not yet reached its peak; KwaZulu-Natal has not reached its peak.”
War on misinformation
Phaahla also noted that fake news and anti-vax campaigns have been gaining some momentum, especially on social media.
He said, “We have got to be creative. We are talking with our partners in different provinces to try and find other creative ways to make sure that we can be able to take on the anti-vaccination campaigners. We definitely will be upping our game in that area.”