Health minister says the government will target 67% of the country’s population to achieve herd immunity.
AS PART of government’s vaccine strategy, front-line health workers will get access to the vaccine first, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Sunday.
South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine roll-out strategy was unveiled during a public online briefing headed by Mkhize.
Mkhize said that health care workers were the most important sector in the fight against Covid-19.
He said the government would target 67% of the country’s population to achieve herd immunity. This equates to just over 40 million people.
“We knew early on that the only way to fight Covid-19 would be to achieve herd immunity through vaccination,” said Mkhize.
He said the Health Department would roll out the vaccine in phases as follows:
Phase 1 : Front-line health care workers
Phase 2: Essential workers and persons with comorbidities.
“We are very mindful of the urgency. We all have a personal anxiety. We want to know at which point can we say we are safe from this pandemic. We are in bilateral talks to see how we can get the vaccine here faster, perhaps by February,” said Mkhize
South Africa is one of around 200 countries who have joined the pooled procurement for the coronavirus vaccine, commonly known as COVAX, co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO).
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last month that the vaccine will only be available to South Africans in July, saying that the Solidarity Fund had already made a prepayment of more than R283 million towards the acquisition of the vaccine.
Mkhize said on Sunday that the government would be using a three-pronged approach to fund vaccines, which would include the Solidarity Fund, medical aid schemes and private sector funding
He said that government had signed non-disclosure agreements with a few vaccine manufacturers so they can secure early access to vaccines.