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Festive season hampered Covid-19 vaccination drive: Joe Phaahla

Vaccine coverage in SA is highest in the Free State, followed by the Western Cape and Limpopo, says health minister Joe Phaahla. File image.
Vaccine coverage in SA is highest in the Free State, followed by the Western Cape and Limpopo, says health minister Joe Phaahla. File image.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo/Sunday Times

The government’s vaccination programme suffered during the festive season because many were focused on spending time with loved ones rather than getting the Covid-19 jab.

This is according to health minister Joe Phaahla, who together with a panel of health experts on Friday provided an update on the vaccination rollout programme and the government’s fight against the pandemic.

“Our vaccination programme struggled over the festive season. As we reported on December 17, all provinces took steps to improve access with mobile and pop-up sites at places including toll gates, roadblocks and shopping malls, and even at the beachfront in Durban.

“The uptake of these opportunities was not very big as people focused on their festivities and leisure,” Phaahla said.

He said after an almost complete lull between Christmas and New Year, the vaccination rate had picked up slightly, but was below 100,000 doses a day.

Phaahla said by close of business on Friday, 28.7-million doses had been administered to 18.4-million adults, which translates to 45.5% of all adults above the age of 18 having received at least one jab.

“Those who are fully vaccinated stand at 15.9-million, which is 40% of our adult population.”

The leading province in vaccine coverage was the Free State at 54.1%, followed by the Western Cape at 53.6%, Limpopo at 52.2% and the Eastern Cape with 50%, Phaahla said.

“Northern Cape is at 47%, North West at 44.6% and Gauteng at 42.7%. At the bottom are Mpumalanga at 39.5% and KwaZulu-Natal with 39%.

“Last night Gauteng crossed 8-million doses administered, which is a significant milestone. The challenge is the huge population to be serviced.”

Phaahla said the government’s main priority was the full vaccination of at least 70% of the adult population.

“I wish to reiterate that the protection of vaccines against severe illnesses is uncontested, as we can see with the fourth wave of infections, and as we saw with the protection of health workers and teachers in the third wave.”

TimesLIVE


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