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Virtually no vaccinations over weekends, with only 4% of weekday rates – NIDS survey

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South Africa could come close to reaching its Covid-19 vaccination targets if the rollout over the weekends were equivalent to the weekdays.

South Africa could come close to reaching its Covid-19 vaccination targets if the rollout over the weekends were equivalent to the rollout over weekdays.

Between May 17 May and July 5 this year, 1.3 million additional vaccines could have been administered if vaccinations were available on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays.

This according to the National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile (Nids-Cram) survey which said that weekend vaccination rates are 4% of weekday vaccination rates.

The study reviewed the National Department of Health’s data on the number of vaccines administered per day and found that there were “virtually no vaccinations on weekends”.

“The lack of weekend vaccinations is the binding constraint to the South African vaccination programme. Although vaccine supply was initially the major constraint to the roll out of vaccines in South Africa this is no longer the case,” said authors of the study.

South Africa had 7.4 million Covid-19 doses at the end of June 2021, however, it had only administered 3 million.

The Department of Health aimed to administer 5 million Covid-19 doses by the end of June, however, it only managed to achieve 3 million, which is 60% of the target.

If weekend vaccinations rates were similar to weekday vaccinations, it is estimated that 4.3 million people or 86% of the target would have been administered by the end June.

Vaccines administered per day between 17 May to 4 July 2021. Graphic by Sugan Naidoo.

Authors said it was important to note that at the time of the survey, only 2% of the South African population had been vaccinated, between April-May 2021.

The study also found that vaccine acceptance in the country is rising, from 71% in February 2021 to 76% in May 2021.

Many previously hesitant individuals are now accepting of vaccines.

“Half of those who were vaccine hesitant in February/March 2021 had subsequently changed their minds and agreed to be vaccinated when asked in April/May 2021.”

Actual vaccine registration after two months were found to be much lower than their stated willingness to be vaccinated in surveys.

“This provides a signal that we need to consider the time costs and burden associated with registration. Providing hassle-free access, and removing impediments, is likely to be even more important amongst the rest of the population, given that the survey shows that vaccination demand in the <60-year group is significantly lower, presumably because age is an important mortality risk factor,” said authors in the study.

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