US Donates Pfizer Vaccine Doses to SA & Vaccination Momentum Picks Up in SA
Image: SANews

South Africa has received 2.8 million Pfizer vaccine doses from the United States as part of a donation that is set to boost the country’s vaccination rollout campaign.

“The next batch will arrive on Tuesday to conclude the 5.6 million doses. The donation will contribute to the country’s expanded vaccination programme, which is fast gaining momentum to reach more people,” the Health Department said on Twitter.

Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi was joined by Deputy Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla and the Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in South Africa, Todd Haskell, in accepting the donation at OR Tambo International Airport on Saturday.

The initiative is part of the collaboration between the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), COVAX, and the US government, with the African Union Member States set to receive about 25 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to enhance coverage across the continent, and vaccinate at least 60% of the African population.

The department said these life-saving vaccines arrive at a time when the country gears to vaccinate those aged between 18 and 34 from September.

“By the time we open for people between the ages of 18 and 34 to be vaccinated from the 1st of September 2021, we will be able to respond to the demand that this cohort will generate,” Kubayi said last week during a media briefing.

The department believes the donation contributes to the security of supply to meet the demands to reach government’s milestones to inoculate the majority of the population soon.

In addition, about 1 454 900 Johnson & Johnson vaccines are expected to be transported to various sites on Tuesday.

President encouraged by many South Africans seeing need to be vaccinated

President Cyril Ramaphosa says he is encouraged that many South Africans see the need to be vaccinated against Coronavirus.

“Vaccines are safe. They are our best protection against this disease and the national vaccination programme is our surest guarantee of a swift health and economic recovery,” President Ramaphosa said.

In his weekly newsletter on Monday, President Ramaphosa said to meet the demand for vaccination, several vaccination sites around the country are now operating on weekends and many innovations like vaccination drive-throughs and mobile vaccination units are in operation.

“As we work to vaccinate as many people as possible by end of the year, we salute the officials, healthcare workers and staff of the vaccination centres who are working tirelessly to support the national effort.

“One of the two vaccination sites I visited is run by the private sector, in partnership with government and the other is run by government, yet both facilities had similar levels of excellent service and professionalism,” President Ramaphosa said.

He said the private sector, including medical schemes, has worked alongside government from the onset of the pandemic, helping to mobilise resources and most recently, helping to meet the national vaccination targets.

“The two vaccination sites I visited are among an estimated 3 000 vaccination sites we have set up in the country. These sites are currently providing vaccines to any person above the age of 35, healthcare workers, and employees in participating workplaces,” President Ramaphosa said.

According to President Ramaphosa, the number of vaccinations administered in South Africa has passed the 7.5 million mark.

“Around three million people are fully vaccinated. At the present rate, we are vaccinating on average 220 000 people a day. In the coming weeks, this rate will increase significantly due to the arrival of more vaccine doses.

“Nearly 1.5 million single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been handed to the Department of Health in the last couple of days.

President Ramaphosa said South Africa is also making history, with the first COVID-19 vaccines produced in Africa for Africa having been released by Aspen Pharmacare from its flagship manufacturing plant in Gqeberha last week.

“These vaccines will be made available to the rest of the continent through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, which we set up during our tenure as African Union chair. Thanks to the efforts of all involved in the multi-sectoral vaccine acquisition response, we now have a comfortable supply of stocks to vaccinate our population.”

At the Rabasotho Community Centre in Tembisa, President Ramaphosa said he saw government’s Batho Pele principles in action.

“The process was efficient and streamlined, from the COVID-19 Vaccination Card people are issued with to help them keep track of their doses, to data-capturing stations, and observation stations with doctors on standby for those who have just received their jab.

“Importantly, the site has an information area where those presenting for vaccination are given clear information in their own language on the different vaccine options available,” President Ramaphosa said.

President Ramaphosa encouraged South Africans to continue to follow the guidance of the World Health Organisation and the Department of Health around COVID-19 vaccines.

“We need to avoid spreading misleading and false information that can cause confusion,” he said. –