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Govt increases vaccine capacity

Written by Kgaogelo Letsebe

The National Department of Health says it is increasing capacity to strengthen the fight against the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The department’s spokesperson Popo Maja says the recent public unrest and vandalism to property in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal have affected access to essential health services, in general, and operations at some vaccinations sites.

“As a result, some vaccination sites had to shut down for the entire unrest period. However, most sites, especially in Gauteng, are back on track,” he says.

To address the vaccination interruption, the depart- ment is increasing its number of vaccination sites and sites will be operating on weekends, in some areas.

“The department is also adding more personnel to vaccinate as many people as possible, in line with a call by President Cyril Ramaphosa to vaccinate
300 000 daily. We have received commitment from the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders to support government to accelerate the roll-out programme,” he says.

He adds that contingency plans are being put in place to identify the closest sites in communities that were affected by the unrest, to ensure that people do not travel long distances to access life-saving vaccines.

“Vaccines that were allocated and reserved for the affected sites have been directed to other sites and provinces to prevent wastage, due to expiry dates. Once the sites are fully operational, new stock will be supplied,” says Maja.

The President recently confirmed that the country’s most effective weapon in the fight against COVID-19 is an effective and comprehensive vaccination programme. He also called for acceleration of the vaccination programme so that the vast majority of the adults can be vaccinated before the end of the year.

“We urge all eligible people to register to vaccinate, to protect themselves and their loved ones. Vaccines save lives,” says Maja.  

To help accelerate the roll-out programme, eligible citizens can present themselves at a vaccination site without an appointment.

The President also announced that by October, South Africa is scheduled to receive around 31 million additional Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

“This supply pipeline means that there will be sufficient vaccine doses available for the rest of the year,” he said.