Health minister Zweli Mkhize

Health minister Zweli Mkhize has announced that the second phase of the country’s vaccination roll-out will begin on 17 May. This, he said, was owing to the millions of vaccine doses that are expected to land in South Africa in the next coming weeks.

Mkhize said the country has secured a combined 51 million jabs in the agreements that have been signed with various drug makers, aimed at 42 million people. Thirty-one million are from Johnson & Johnson, while 20 million will come from Pfizer. Also, the country is expecting about 1.2 million Covax vaccines.

“This means we can now move ahead with confidence as we finalise our plans for our mass roll-out campaign.”

The minister said 17 May marks the end of the phase-one vaccination programme, aimed at healthcare professionals, and the beginning of the second round. The plan is to wrap up phase two up in October.

Mkhize said government is still working to procure more jabs to ensure that those who may be unaccounted for or undocumented are also immunised so the country can reach herd immunity.

The minister also announced that J&J has confirmed that South Africa will receive over 1.9 million doses, produced locally, this month. “The advantage is that it has shortened the dispatch from the plant and the delivery to the vaccination centre.”

He added that 900 000 doses will be delivered in May, while another batch of 900 000 will follow in June.