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More South Africans can get vaccines

With South Africa’s mass Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)vaccination programme reaching more people by the day, government has announced that from 1 September, those between 18 and 34 years of age will be vaccinated.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the country’s vaccination drive has gained momentum in recent weeks, with more than 10% of the population having now received a vaccine dose.

“This has been possible through close collaboration between government and the private sector and with the active support of other social partners,” said the President.

Further progress is expected in the weeks ahead, when government will substantially increase the rate of vaccination through an increase in the number of vaccination sites and improvements to the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS).

“We will also increase our vaccination capacity on weekends. We will now allow people between the ages of 18 and 34 to be vaccinated from 1 September 2021.

“This will be in addition to the age groups that are currently eligible, which is everyone over 35 years of age,” explained President Ramaphosa.

The substantial increase in the rate of vaccination will also be made possible by improvements in the supply of vaccines.

“Within the next two to three months, we are scheduled to receive around 31 million additional doses from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson,” he added.

Improvements to the EVDS

Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said the EVDS has been reprogrammed to allow for self-scheduling, meaning people will now choose the site where they want to receive their vaccine, including the date that suits them.

In addition, the EVDS now offers assistance in Isizulu, IsiXhosa, Sesotho, and Afrikaans. The department is working on including additional languages on the EVDS.

Government is also planning on setting up mass vaccination sites in all metros to cater for the large population densities.

“The first model will be roving vaccination sites, which will move from one community to the next, based on the demand,” she explained.

According to the Department of Health’s Director-General, Dr Sandile Buthelezi, the additional sites in different areas will ensure equitable coverage of the population.

The department is also focusing on the temporary outreach sites, such as those at the South African Social Security Agency pay points.

“We can get more numbers, as compared to the nearest public health facility,” said Dr Buthelezi, adding that the plan is to target the elderly they have missed.

The roving teams will consist of those who will visit community areas and do mass vaccinations to ensure vaccines are brought to the people.

Dr Buthelezi said the plan is to administer more than 1 000 vaccinations per day at each site from August to January 2022.