People over the age of 50 are being urged to get vaccinated. Picture: Western Cape government/Supplied
People over the age of 50 are being urged to get vaccinated. Picture: Western Cape government/Supplied

Vaccination for the over 50s a matter of life and death, warn health officials

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Aug 13, 2021

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Cape Town - Western Cape health authorities have set their sights on the 50-year-olds and older groups urging them to get vaccinated as a matter of life and death.

Speaking during Premier Alan Winde’s weekly Covid-19 digital news conference, head of health Dr Keith Cloete said: “Sixty-eight percent of hospital admissions, or two-thirds, are of those in the over 50 group.

“People in this age group need to urgently get vaccinated as they remain at high risk of admission and death in subsequent waves.

“To date, we have administered 1 393 818 vaccines and from this number 528 485 people have received their second jab and are fully vaccinated. This total includes health-care workers and those vaccinated as part of our mass-vaccination programme.”

He said the Western Cape has entered the peak of the third wave and that case numbers continue to increase, but at a slower rate.

Across the province there are an average of 3 100 new diagnoses daily but hospital admissions and deaths have remained at the same level with around 335 new admissions and around 108 deaths each day.

Winde also made an appeal to the over 50s to get vaccinated saying the more people that were vaccinated, the sooner the province would reach herd immunity.

UCT Vaccines for Africa Initiative expert Gregory Hussey shared the results from selected UK vaccine effectiveness studies and spoke about vaccine effectiveness against the alpha and delta variants, according to dose and vaccine type.

He said South Africa with only 5% of the population or 3 million people vaccinated, has a very young vaccination programme compared to the UK where 69% of the population has been fully vaccinated or the US where the number is 57%.

He said Pfizer and AstraZeneca (AZ) are two-dose vaccines and comparing the effectiveness of the second dose of the both vaccines against the Alpha and Delta variants against hospital admission in clinical trials, Hussey showed that Pfizer performed slightly better than AZ.

Against the Alpha variant Pfizer had 95% effectiveness against AZ’s 86% and against the Delta variant, they stood at 96% and 92% respectively.

“That’s actually phenomenal data and it shows that vaccines do work and have an impact on reducing hospitalisation and deaths from Covid-19,” said Hussey.

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said ramping up vaccinations was the only way to ensure that the predicted fourth wave was less severe than the second and the third.

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