Government expects to vaccinate 65% of population

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Health minister Zweli Mkhize says government remains committed to vaccinating 65% of the population, or 40 million people, as per the original plan, by the end of the year to help the country reach herd immunity.

This, he said in parliament on Wednesday, is owing to vaccine doses being delivered by the manufacturing companies as per the agreed quarterly schedule when the vaccines were procured. “We are still targeting many of the vaccines to be administered by the end of the year,” he said.

“As we have indicated, we are mindful that some of the supplies can be delayed by the manufacturing companies. And therefore, we will be reviewing as we go to see whether that target needs to be altered or not. But in terms of our original plan, we would like to be able to vaccinate as many of those 40 million people by the end of the year (as possible).”

Mkhize said government has secured 43 million doses in total, with 11 million from Johnson & Johnson and 20 million from Pfizer. Government is also working to buy 12 million doses from Covax. The delivery of the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson will happen quarterly, not in monthly volumes.

“In other words, at the moment, all we can tell is that by this quarter, this is likely to be how much we will get. Once we have got the matter refined, we will be in a position to know month by month or even week by week supplies of what they will give us. That helps us with the planning of the vaccination programme.”

Vaccine roll-out

For the first quarter until 31 March, government anticipated 500 000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Additionally, government anticipates receiving 600 000 doses from Pfizer. “These doses will be allocated to healthcare workers. Out of those 600 000, about 110 000 of those have come from Covax.”

Mkhize said in the quarter to end-June, government anticipates receiving eight million doses, of which five million will come from Pfizer and three million from Johnson & Johnson. These will be used to complete vaccinations for healthcare workers.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize

“In quarter three, July to September, we anticipate receiving 11.6 million doses — about 7.6 million from Pfizer and four million from Johnson & Johnson. These doses will be used to complete the vaccination for phase two and a balance for phase three.

“In quarter four, October to December, we anticipate 11 million doses, seven million from Pfizer, four million from Johnson & Johnson. These doses will be used to complete the phase-three group. We have not received the final delivery schedule from Covax.”