Government’s message on Covid-19 vaccine must be crystal clear
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By Mafika Siphiwe Mgcina
The controversy surrounding the issues of the vaccine’s availability and efficacy to South Africa must be resolved as a matter of urgency.
In the past few days, we have witnessed the unprecedented contradictions from government, medical experts and, most concerning, the peddling of conspiracy theories about the vaccine’s safety.
The Progressive Health Forum’s utterances include some from notable, esteemed medical experts such as Professor Glenda Gray, who is the South African Medical Research Council president, sent shivers down my spine.
In their article, they cited South Africa “amongst the poorest nations who will rely on the global Covax facility as the only hope of receiving an adequate vaccine supply in the next 6-9 months and only after that the month-long vaccination programme will begin.”
Our Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, convened a briefing to outline plans on how the vaccines will be sourced and administered to the entire nation.
What’s is a glaring between the expert article and the minister’s address to the nation is the fundamental contradictions on whether South Africa has secured the vaccines and we are having a well-articulated and comprehensive plan to administer the vaccines to our people.
As the new variant of the Covid-19 virus is ravaging the country, as citizens, we need surety and comfort that the vaccine has been secured and that, as the minister says, “the vaccine will be available by the end of February or the next quarter”.
Therefore it’s imperative that all the experts, from the ministerial advisory committee to the progressive health forum, should come together and sing from the same hymn book that we will be able to confront the virus.
The time for bickering and outsmarting each other about the efficacy and availability of the vaccines is no more while our people are dying at the rate of about 400 a day.
We need to learn from how HIV/Aids decimated our nation, and how we forged together in unison and administered one of the best HIV/Aids treatment programmes which were hailed worldwide including by the World Health Organization.
This was after all the struggle and squabbles by experts and government on whether HIV causes Aids.
Therefore, all hands on deck, we have done it before.
Our message must be crystal clear to the nation, and nature doesn’t allow a vacuum.
We need constant communication and assurance from our health ministry that all is in order and ready to save lives and livelihoods.
* Mgcina is ANC Sedibeng regional task team co-ordinator. He writes in his personal capacity.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.
This edited article was first published by Voices360.