ROLLOUT UPDATE

Appointments for Covid-19 vaccines ‘coming very soon’, says Zweli Mkhize

By Estelle Ellis 11 May 2021

The Minister of Health Dr. Zweli Mkhize. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

People who are over 60 and have registered to receive the vaccine on the government’s system will soon receive a message to schedule their appointments as the Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize said they were still on track to start the next phase of vaccinations by Monday next week.

People who registered to receive the Covid-19 vaccine will soon receive a message to schedule their appointments and will be given advance notice, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s spokesperson, Dr Lwazi Manzi said on Tuesday morning.

She said the scheduling function was being concluded “on the back end” of the electronic vaccination data system and people will receive advance notice of their appointment. “Appointments will not be scheduled for the same day,” she said.

She said the first Pfizer vaccines will be done after 15 May and they were still waiting for an audit of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines to be concluded at the Aspen Pharmacare site.

Manzi said a list of approved vaccination sites will be published this week.

“There will be a dashboard going forward which is currently being concluded and the date that this goes live will be announced,” she said. “The number of vaccination sites will change according to the amount of stock that we have and need and there is no fixed number. We will publish the list weekly and people will be able to see which sites are activated or deactivated,” she said.

Mkhize said the Pfizer vaccine will be distributed to the provinces on 12 and 13 May. 

“We will start small on May 17,” he said adding that he hoped the rollout could be at full strength by the end of August and September. 

Mkhize emphasised that there were doubts about how long naturally acquired immunity will last for those who had the virus and said it is recommended that they too get the vaccination as “an additional protection.”

He said a decision had been taken in some areas that vaccinators will go into old age homes to administer the vaccine to residents but in other areas, the elderly will have to go to the vaccination sites.

Mkhize said South Africa was “technically” not experiencing a third wave of coronavirus outbreaks yet but the Free State had a sufficient surge of cases to be in a third wave. He said an increase in infections in the Northern Cape is still part of an ongoing second wave in that province. Mkhize added that while there was an increase in cases in Gauteng it was not high enough to qualify for a third wave.

“In the rest of the country the number of cases are still very small,” he said. DM/MC

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