South Africa’s vaccine rollout is finally ramping up, as the country grapples with a ferocious Third Wave. Only 1.2 million South Africans have been fully vaccinated so far (in a country with a population of over 58 million), the Health Department revealed today… but with the go-ahead for clinics to remain open on weekend days from 1 August, an extra 1 million vaccine doses should soon be administered monthly.
Thanks in large part to a campaign for weekend vaccines by DA Shadow Minister of Finance Geordin Hill-Lewis, the SA government announced today that vaccination clinics will operate 7 days a week from 1 August.
Hill-Lewis said he was “thrilled” with the announcement following a meeting between the National Treasury and the Department of Health. “When we vaccinate more than 1 million extra people every month, because we vaccinate over weekends, then this will undoubtedly mean thousands of lives saved over the coming year,” he said.
Over 4 million vaccines administered, as rollout goes full steam ahead
Evidence accumulates that Covid-19 vaccines are saving lives across the planet | By GroundUp Staff
The vaccine rollout is proceeding full steam ahead, with over 190,000 doses administered on 8 July according to the health department. Over 4 million vaccine doses have been administered in South Africa since the rollout began in February. Over 1.2 million people have been fully vaccinated (either one Johnson & Johnson or two Pfizer doses).
The daily doses administered have steadily climbed over the past two weeks. The only exception is on weekends when doses administered drop to low numbers (just over 20,000 the past weekend), but this should be rectified by 1 August according to the Acting Minister of Health Mmamoloko Nkhensani Kubayi. She also said the rollout will reach 250,000 doses a day by the end of next week.
This is by far the most number of vaccines administered in the shortest period of time in South African history. After a slow start mired in problems, the vaccination programme is doing well. Moreover, as this Spotlight report on the NIDS-Cram survey explains, vaccine acceptance is growing.
Gauteng has administered the most doses at just over 900,000 doses, followed by KZN at just under 900,000, then the Western Cape at nearly 600,000, then Eastern Cape at about 500,000, Limpopo at about 460,000, Free State and North West at about 200,000, Mpumalanga at about 185,000 and Northern Cape at about 60,000 (source: Department of Health)
Worldwide about 3.3 billion doses have been administered. Africa lags far behind, with fewer than 60 million doses administered in total. On the continent, Nigeria and South Africa have administered the most doses, but several smaller African countries have vaccinated a greater proportion of their populations. Mauritius leads the way on the political African map with 17% of its population fully vaccinated.
Vaccines are working
The vaccines we are using in South Africa have been properly tested in clinical trials so it’s no surprise that they work. The Western Cape government reported on Thursday that 320 of its more than 23,000 vaccinated health workers have contracted Covid-19, about 1.4%, but none have died (seven were admitted to hospital but none to intensive care). Considering the surge in infections in the province and the exposure of health workers, this is fantastic news.
Internationally its clear that vaccines are working. For example, BBC reports that in the UK unvaccinated people are at far greater risk of being infected and dying from the delta variant. CNN reports that all 130 people who died of Covid-19 in the state of Maryland in June were unvaccinated.
The Covid-19 vaccines in South Africa work. If you’re eligible, most vaccine centres are now accepting walk-ins. Registration for 35 to 49-year-olds opens 15 July. Vaccination for this group will start 1 August.