Deputy President David Mabuza spent Thursday conducting an oversight visit in the Bojanala district in the North West, where he canvassed citizens to get vaccinated.
“We are pleading with you, not forcing you,” said Mabuza, answering a question from a resident who quizzed him on what would happen if she decided not to get the Covid-19 jab.
Mabuza, who is the government’s leader of the interministerial committee on Covid-19, conducted a walkabout in communities in the Rustenburg, Kgetleng and Madibeng municipalities, visiting a local mall, taxi rank and TVET college.
The purpose of the visit was to explain the government's interventions aimed at ramping up the vaccination programme.
The programme is aimed at everyone aged 18 and older and aims to achieve population immunity by December 31.
Research is under way to secure a vaccine for young adults and children.
The North West is one of the lowest-performing provinces when it comes to reaching its target population, with just 21% of people vaccinated. The Bojanala district is the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic in the province.
Mabuza made his first stop at the Orbit TVET College, where he recruited students and went to the extent of helping staff manage the queues.
Answering questions from the community, Mabuza said: “We are asking you nicely. We are not forcing you to get vaccinated. We will be protected if we are vaccinated. The chances of us getting ill are also very slim and we will also avoid death if we are vaccinated.”
Mabuza, who was flanked by his bodyguards and in the company of newly elected North West premier Bushy Maape and health minister Dr Joe Phaahla, took questions from the community in a bid to dispel myths and fake news around the vaccines.
He said: “Those who do not want to get vaccinated, it’s their right. But we will beg them to because we will lose them when they get infected. Some survive, others die.”
Questions ranged from what should people do when they have high blood pressure or diabetes to whether pregnant mothers can get vaccinated and whether people should go ahead and get vaccinated even when they have tested positive.
Phaahla explained that people with comorbidities were on top of the list: “If you are living with high blood pressure or diabetes, you are the ones that we really want to vaccinate.”
Phaahla told residents that even if they test positive they should still get the jab. “There is a notion that once you get Covid-19, there is no need to get vaccines. That is not true,” he said, adding that those who did not get vaccinated had a higher chance of landing up in hospital and possibly dying.
Reiterating Mabuza’s statements, Phaahla said vaccination was not mandatory. “Companies have different policies for their workers and it depends on what the company says. But from the government there is no-one who is forced to get the vaccine,” he said.
Phaahla said pregnant women could get vaccinated but cautioned those who were not feeling well to wait at least 30 days before getting the jab.
He said the government has secured enough vaccine to inoculate the entire population.