President Cyril Ramaphosa detailed the country’s vaccination plan in his address on Monday night.
Earlier on Monday, Ramaphosa confirmed that he, along with Dr Zwelini Mkhize and Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, had received the country’s first consignment of Covid-19 vaccines.
The shipment, consisting of a million doses of the Covishield vaccine produced by the Serum Institute in India, arrived at OR Tambo International Airport on Monday afternoon.
Ramaphosa said the vaccine was developed by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca together with the University of Oxford.
South Africa was one of the countries where clinical trials were held to assess the drug’s efficacy.
“Now that the vaccines have arrived they will be tested at the National Control Laboratory to confirm that their integrity has been maintained during transportation,” he said.
In accordance with SA’s phased roll-out strategy, all healthcare workers in the public and private sectors will be prioritised for vaccination.
Provincial health departments have submitted their distribution plans with 200 facilities identified as distribution centres.
Phase 2 of the national vaccine strategy will include essential workers, people over 60 years, people with co-morbidities as well as those living in places such as nursing homes and hostels.
In Phase 3, the government will extend the vaccination programme to the rest of the adult population.
While addressing the nation, Ramaphosa warned against the spread of misinformation which was doing the rounds on social media.
Nobody will be given this vaccine against their will, nor will the vaccine be administered in secret.— Cyril Ramaphosa 🇿🇦 #StaySafe (@CyrilRamaphosa) February 1, 2021
Any rumours to this effect are both false and dangerous.https://t.co/EBlZOywg9P
“But I want to be clear. Nobody will be forced to take this vaccine. Nobody will be forbidden from travelling, from enrolling at school, or from taking part in any public activity if they have not been vaccinated,” he said.
“Nobody will be given this vaccine against their will, nor will the vaccine be administered in secret.
“Any rumours to this effect are both false and dangerous.”
But I want to be clear. Nobody will be forced to take this vaccine. Nobody will be forbidden from travelling, from enrolling at school, or from taking part in any public activity if they have not been vaccinated.https://t.co/EBlZOyeELf— Cyril Ramaphosa 🇿🇦 #StaySafe (@CyrilRamaphosa) February 1, 2021
Recent data from fintech company CompariSure suggests that a staggering 52% of South Africans don’t want to take the vaccine.
When asked why, 34% cited “side effects” as their main concern.
Other commonly stated reasons for rejecting the jab included “religion” (13%) and “cost/price” (16%), with about 40% of respondents stating “other”, with reasons like “fear of needles” and “government tracking” being supplied.
“From our most recent survey, we saw that just over 50% of respondents answered ’no’ to a direct question on whether they were willing to get the vaccine when it became available,” said Matt Kloos, the chief financial officer of CompariSure.
Whether South Africans are more open to getting vaccinated remains to be be seen now that SA has procured the first shipment of vaccines.