Turning point in SA's 14-month fight against Covid-19: Vaccine rollout gains momentum

Paul Ash Senior reporter
SA will make a 'dent' in Covid-19 infections if it vaccinates more citizens before a possible third wave during winter. File photo.
SA will make a 'dent' in Covid-19 infections if it vaccinates more citizens before a possible third wave during winter. File photo.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/Sunday Times

SA's vaccination programme offers the country the best hope of saving lives and jobs and getting the economy back on track.

Addressing a health department webinar on Sunday night to announce the start of the second phase of the vaccination campaign, Business for SA steering committee chair Martin Kingston said for the campaign to succeed, the pace and scale of registration and administering the shot needed to speed up.

“Business fully supports vaccination,” said Kingston. “In respect of Covid-19, vaccination is the best health policy, it is the best social policy, and it is the best economic policy.”

SA's business community had been working with the health department and the Solidarity Fund to build vaccination capacity.

Business for SA's contribution to the campaign will see 13 private sites capable of administering 3,500 jabs daily come on line on Monday. The number will rise to 40 sites by the end of the week and 80 sites by the end of the following week which will increase capability to 22,000 vaccinations per day.

The sites, which will handle healthcare workers as well as people allocated by the electronic vaccine data system (EVDS), are spread across private hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and medical practices, as well as occupational health and safety sites in various sectors.

The start of phase 2 rollout was a historic and critical moment that marked the turning point in SA's 14-month fight against the pandemic, Kingston added.

While the size and complexity of the programme was unprecedented, he was confident that all the necessary elements were in place to get everyone in SA vaccinated as soon as possible.

“We have the vaccines, the distribution network, the system in the form of EVDS and the people to ensure that it works well,” he said.

“Brick by brick, this enormous project has been assembled. Everyone realises the need to commence this phase ahead of the onset of winter and through the third wave.”

Kingston urged all South Africans to play their part by registering for vaccinations and helping others to do so. 

Only then could `SA begin thinking of returning to normal life. Until then, however, people needed to continue to stick to the now-proven non-pharmaceutical interventions of wearing masks, washing hands and maintaining social distance, he said. 

Kingston said he was also looking forward to getting his jab.

“Its free, it's safe and it will enable our country to achieve its full potential.”

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