health is wealth
SA still on track with phase 1 COVID-19 vaccine rollout – Mkhize
Speaking to the parliamentary Health committee virtually on Tuesday afternoon, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize admitted that while there were some

Speaking to the parliamentary Health committee virtually on Tuesday afternoon, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize admitted that while there were some delays, he believed that they were still on track.

FILE: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize gets his J&J COVID-19 vaccination at Khayelitsha Hospital on 17 February 2021 Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - With only 251,000 healthcare workers vaccinated for COVID-19 so far, government still has to innoculate 75% of this sector if it wanted to reach its target.

Government was adamant that it would be able to vaccinate one million workers in the health sector by mid-May but with only a quarter of that group inoculated so far, it would have to pick up the pace.

Speaking to the parliamentary Health committee virtually on Tuesday afternoon, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize admitted that while there were some delays, he believed that they were still on track.

READ: MPs accuse Health Dept of shifting targets with COVID-19 vaccine rollout

"We committed to rolling out vaccines from mid-February through a phased programme which would see front line workers being vaccinated in three months, high-risk persons being vaccinated in the ensuing six months and the healthy adults in the remaining three months. We're still on track, although there have been delays in the first phase but we have not lost the original pace."

Incoming co-chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, Professor Koleka Mlisana, said that the country's vaccine rollout plan was on track and when the vials touched down, the focus would have to be on fast-tracking inoculations.

Mlisana has replaced epidemiologist Professor Salim Abdool Karim, who stepped down last week after serving on the committee for over a year.

With the threat of a third wave, there are concerns of super-spreader events when religious leaders and congregants gather over the Easter long weekend.

Mlisana acknowledged that South Africa should have been further ahead with the vaccine rollout programme compared to other countries.

"We need to remind ourselves that government did procure the AstraZeneca vaccine unfortunately because of the variant that continues to circulate in the country, we could not use the vaccine."

On Tuesday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the vaccination programme would be gaining momentum.

Ramaphosa said that phase, which began in the middle of February, was on track and was expected to be completed within three months.

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