ALMOST 50% of South Africa’s adult population has received at least one dose of vaccine.
This was revealed by Health Minister Joe Phaahla when he gave a report of the Social Cluster Ministers in their bid to improve the living conditions of the people.
Phaahla co-chairs the Social Cluster with Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.
Addressing the media in Pretoria on Thursday, Phaahla said today marks exactly a year and week since the first dose of a J&J Covid-19 vaccine was administered in the country following a setback from AstraZeneca vaccine, which could not be used due to low level of efficacy against the dominant variant at the time.
“Despite the current low vaccine uptake in South Africa, which can be attributed to a number of factors, including vaccine hesitancy, it is an undeniable fact that we have made great strides in the national vaccination coverage, with almost half (47.5%) of our adult population having had at least one dose.
“Thus, based on the daily and weekly infection and mortality rates, this means more lives have been saved through the administration of more than 30 million vaccine doses to-date, but more work still needs to be done to achieve the biggest goal, which is reaching population immunity at 70% of adult coverage,” Phaahla said.
He said the youthfulness of the population makes it imperative that young people get vaccinated too.
“This age group (18-35 years) is at lower risk of severe Covid-19 illness or death. However, they are not immune. Adjusted for risk, young people have come forward for vaccination at higher rates than older people.
“Given the youthfulness of South Africa’s population, they hold the key to achieving 70% vaccination coverage and we must accelerate uptake in this age group,” he said.
Phaahla said more than half (56%) of the adults who were not vaccinated were aged 18-34 years of age, saying roughly 12 million young people in this age group had yet to be vaccinated.
“The government will continue to make scientifically based decisions with regards to vaccination programme as part of efforts to make it convenient for people to access both primary vaccine doses and booster shots, which increase antibodies and provide further protection against the pandemic.
“The dissemination of health information in people’s home language will be intensified as part of health education and awareness to empower people with information to make well-informed health choices,” Phaahla said.