SCALE OF THE CHALLENGE
SA immunises about 5,000 babies daily for diseases such as measles and diphtheria as part of what is now its biggest mass vaccination scheme.
To reach its Covid-19 vaccination target, it would need to administer some 150,000 doses every day for the next year.
A programme on that scale will need to manage reams of data on who must be vaccinated, who has received a dose of vaccine and who still needs a follow-up shot.
Tuesday's government statement said the system would be based on a pre-vaccination registration and appointment system, but did not go into details on when and where people can get registered.
The vaccination drive will also require vast cold chain infrastructure at a time when the country is suffering from regular power cuts, as well as a plan to deal with unprecedented amounts of biomedical waste, experts say.
Some private companies and industry bodies with the necessary expertise and infrastructure have already volunteered their assistance.
The Independent Community Pharmacy Association (ICPA), which represents about 1,164 pharmacies, said last week it had sent the government details of how it could assist the vaccination effort.
ICPA said it was working with the National department of health on vaccine rollout, but did not say if a plan had been agreed.
Clicks Group told Reuters it was ready to offer the use of its vast distribution network but was awaiting clarity on how the government's programme would work.
The Minerals Council — an industry body for mining companies — said its members were developing plans to use the sector's health care infrastructure and delivery capability for the vaccine drive.
Supermarket chains and retailers are also offering to help.
“The Shoprite Group is ... ideally positioned to assist with the distribution and administration of Covid-19 vaccines once the government provides final details,” the country's largest retailer told Reuters.
Health experts said such private sector support was encouraging, but added a detailed government blueprint was needed to avoid delays.
“It should have been developed already,” said Jeremy Nel, head of the infectious diseases division at Helen Joseph Hospital on the rollout plan. “Slower you are to rollout, you will have to measure the cost of failure in deaths.”