South Africa should start registering people over 50 for vaccines now: premier

Western Cape premier Alan Winde has called on the national government to allow people over the age of 50 to register for Covid-19 vaccinations in South Africa.

In a webinar on Thursday (17 June), Winde said that he made this point at the President’s Coordinating Council meeting this week, and that it was vital that the country’s vaccination efforts are not furthered delayed.

“There is no reason why this shouldn’t happen already, while vaccinations of those over 60 continue,” he said.

“I am worried we are leaving registration to the last minute, and we should rather be getting as many people registered now so that we can have a seamless change to the next phase – without any delays.”

Winde said he will continue to make these arguments in his engagement with the national government. “We must ensure we are ready for the next phase as soon as possible.”

“In the meantime, I urge all residents over the age of 60 to please register for their vaccine. We have now exceeded 50% of all eligible residents in this age group, but we need to get close to 70% if we are to get herd immunity in the future.”

Big ramp up

The call comes as the Western Cape prepares to receive a large tranche of 140,000 Pfizer doses on 24 June.

The delivery will enable the province to ramp up its vaccination programme by the end of June, with the arrival of more J&J vaccines also expected to help, said Winde.

“To date, we have received a total of 245,700 vaccines for Phase 2, of which, we have administered a total of 213,356 vaccines, which is 86.8% of vaccines administered.

“We can also reach a minimum of 120,000 vaccinations a week or 24,000 a day and can scale up further to 150,000 a week or 30,000 vaccines a day, should we receive additional vaccines.”

Winde added that the province is seeing fewer infections among healthcare workers compared to the same period in the second wave.

“I am pleased to see that vaccines are protecting our healthcare workers from severe COVID-19 illness and death, and enabling our health system to remain strong,” he said.

“When we last entered a wave in November 2020, the number of infections among healthcare workers infected stood at 654. However, we are now only seeing 81 active cases during the start of the third wave.

“We have vaccinated close to two-thirds of all healthcare workers in the Western Cape, which is the main explanation for these low numbers. This is good news for our province and will make a fundamental difference from the first and second waves.”

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South Africa should start registering people over 50 for vaccines now: premier