Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, says the festive season coupled with the movement of people is expected to trigger the “inevitable” fourth wave of Covid-19 infections.
“This makes it more urgent that more and more people come forward to be vaccinated because we want everybody in our country to be protected from this inevitable fourth wave.
“If we all vaccinate, we can have a safe and enjoyable festive season. We call on all South Africans to head the Vooma [Vaccination Weekend] call and come forward and be vaccinated,” he said.
At least 23 million people in South Africa have received at least one jab with at least 70 000 doing so on Election Day; constituting just under 40% of the country’s adult population.
The Western Cape, Free State, Eastern Cape and Limpopo are close to reaching at least 50% vaccination of their populations.
Some 13 million people are now fully vaccinated.
The Minister said the vaccination rollout plan remains resilient with the department having enough capacity to vaccinate all eligible residents of the country against the virus.
“We can do this by the end of December. Our teams in the provinces are taking vaccines to the people over and above the fixed vaccination sites.
“As we start to use more and more of the one dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine, we will be able to cover more full vaccinations in the next few days and weeks,” he said.
Some 63% of the more COVID-19 vulnerable 60+ age group has been vaccinated; about 57% of those over the age of 50 have been vaccinated.
At least 250 000 children aged between 12 and 17 have now taken the vaccine.
The Minister said the country’s younger population between the ages of 18 and 34 were not taking up vaccination as well as hoped.
“The uptake…is worrisome [and] moving very slowly at the current moment with just under 25%. It is clear that in this population of young adults, fake news on social media is making a huge impact driving away [or] keeping away many of our young adults from vaccination.
“We are hoping that as we get closer to the festive season – because they will be more at risk because of social and entertainment activities – that many more of our young adults will come forward,” he said.
Sisonke study booster shots programme
The Minister revealed that at least 83 000 health workers have registered to participate in the programme.
“Out of those, just over 9 000 have already received their booster doses. We are hoping that all the 500 000 health workers who received the Sisonke one will come forward to participate in the Sisonke Two study.
“The results of this study will give us a better indication of the role of booster doses…how much immunity was waning and if so, how much additional strengthening of immunity will happen after the…booster doses,” he said.
According to the Minister, more than three million vaccination certificates have been downloaded by vaccinated residents since the launch of the Vaccine Certificate system in October.
He added that the QR scanning technology – which allows users to create a code which verifies their inoculation status – is expected to be available from next week.
Minister Phaahla said although the certificates are now available in South Africa, not all countries would be accepting them as proof of inoculation.
“The reason is that countries have to come to an agreement on recognising each other’s certificates. So because this is still new and developing…even from our side we had not yet started negotiating with other countries because…the certificates still needed a lot of improvements.
“There are more security features which will be enhanced during the course of this month so as security features improve…we will be negotiating with countries and multi-lateral bodies,” he said.