Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says that government is aiming to vaccinate a million people against Covid-19 between now until the end of March.
This means that most of the country’s healthcare workers will receive either a single dose or the first of two doses.
Speaking in parliament on Thursday (25 February), the minister said that 32,000 healthcare workers had been vaccinated using the first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Mkhize said that his department originally estimated that at least 40 million people will need to receive a vaccine to ensure population immunity. However, he indicated that it is increasingly likely that more people than this will need to receive a shot.
He indicated that talks were still ongoing with vaccine producers, including Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, and that final figures would be announced soon.
The country will have access to 500,000 doses from Johnson & Johnson within ‘the next few weeks’, with a further a further 600,000 doses being delivered by Pfizer, he said.
The majority of the country’s vaccines are only expected to arrive in April, May and June.
Earlier this week Mkhize confirmed that the next batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines will arrive in the country this weekend, taking the total doses in South Africa for phase one of the rollout to 160,000.
The first batch of vaccines saw 80,000 doses delivered on 16 February, with the same number of healthcare workers expected to be vaccinated two weeks after the drop. The official rollout started on 17 February.
Mkhize said that phase one and phase two of the country’s vaccine rollout – which includes healthcare workers, frontline workers and people with comorbidities – should be completed within six months and includes 16.5 million people.
The third phase will focus on ‘mopping up’ and will include everyone government can reach thereafter, he said.