South Africans over the age of 60 are showing off their first shot of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and we’re here for it! It’s such a relief that phase 2 of the vaccine rollout strategy finally kicked off this week, aimed at our senior citizens. And it’s going much faster than the first phase, which was still a trial and had more checks in place, slowing things down. But still, it’s had challenges. At the start of the week, elderly people waited in queues at one of the 87 public health sites, but this is far short of the 3000 sites the government hoped to have up by Phase 2.
We have to play our part, too. The initial turnout has been slow. Of the 5 million citizens older than 60, only 1.2 million citizens registered. Talk to your parents and grandparents, folks.
Meanwhile, phase 1B of the Sisonke trial is running concurrently with Phase 2. Under the first part of Phase 1 (stay with us) about 500 000 healthcare workers were vaccinated. That ended on 15 May and now Phase 1B kicks off, for the remaining 750 000 healthcare workers.
Phase 2 in its totality targets about 16 million people, including essential workers, people living in crowded areas and people over the age of 40.
That means we’re going to need a whole lot more vaccines. We’ve secured about six million Pfizer vaccines, due to come in batches, with plans to vaccinate 250 000 people a day in the coming weeks.
Things will need to speed up sooner rather than later especially as the third wave looms. On Wednesday more than 3 000 new cases were reported in South Africa. Gauteng premier David Makhura said last week the province is officially in the third wave, while the Free State and Western Cape are on high alert as a resurgence begins. Experts are concerned about the intensity of the third wave – so brace yourself, we might see some new restrictions shortly. Hint: buy your alcohol soon.
This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 15 April 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates