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Phases for vaccine rollout in SA—when can Newcastle expect to be immunised?

Phases for vaccine rollout in SA—when can Newcastle expect to be immunised?
"According to the National Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, the rollout will be conducted in phases with the most vulnerable of our population receiving the first doses of the prized vaccine."

The South African Government wants to vaccinate a minimum of 67% of the country’s population, in order to achieve herd immunity against the pandemic. This means approximately 40 million people need to be vaccinated relatively quickly. 

According to the National Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, the rollout will be conducted in phases with the most vulnerable of our population receiving the first doses of the prized vaccine. 

Phase One will focus on front-line healthcare workers. Target population: 1,250,000

Phase Two will see the vaccine be given to:

  • Essential workers. Target population: 2,500,000
  • Persons in congregate settings. Target population: 1,100,000
  • Persons over 60 years. Target population: 5,000,000
  • People over the age of 18 years with co-morbidities. Target population: 8,000,000

Phase 3 will see the vaccine target other persons older than 18 years. Target population: 22,500,000

Dr Mkhize states, “This means that by the end of the phase, 3, 40 350 000 citizens will have been immunised which is equivalent to approximately 67,25% of the population as we have indicated.”

Currently, Dr Mkhize adds that the Government has secured the doses acquired through COVAX, ensuring 10% of the population will be immunised through this mechanism.

Additionally, he enthuses, “Having secured for 10% of the population; we have embarked on other efforts to get the rest of the 57% of the population to be targeted by the end of 2021 but, more importantly, we are making efforts to obtain vaccines much earlier, hopefully as early as February 2021.” It is important to note; this will depend on the success of current bilateral negotiations between the Government and various companies.

To optimise stock availability, the Government is negotiating with all manufacturers and pursuing those who indicate a desire to make vaccines available sooner. The Health Minister elaborates, “We are in sensitive discussions and at this stage are bound by Non-Disclosure Agreements, but we will make announcements as soon as negotiations are concluded, and the NDA’s have been lifted.”

Aspen senior executive, strategic trade, Stavros Nicolaou has stated that Johnson & Johnson will decide if any of the 230 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine which are scheduled to be produced at Aspen Pharmacare’s Port Elizabeth factory, will be sold in South Africa.

During an interview with Business Report, he explained Aspen will contract manufactures to produce the J&J vaccine in Port Elizabeth following the signing of a technology transfer agreement between the two companies.

But with the above in mind, when can Newcastle expect to see the vaccine?

Dr Regina Hurley, of the Mediclinic Newcastle COVID-19 task team states, at this point in time she cannot comment on when a vaccine will be available in town. This is primarily due to the planning which needs to be implemented for the rollout. However, when the vaccine is made available, Dr Hurley states that each person will need to make a personal decision on whether they will receive it or not. But for now, “Practice social distancing, sanitise, wear your masks and follow the level 3 lockdown rules,” she concludes.

With preparations being put into place, will you choose to be vaccinated? 

Share your thoughts and views with us in the comment section below.

Authors: Quinton Boucher and Calvin Swemmer

Edited: Calvin Swemmer

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