The government of South Africa is reportedly in considerations to open COVID-19 vaccinations to all adults over 18 by the end of the week, just over a week earlier than the planned 1 September date.
Final decisions on this matter, will however still be subject to Cabinet approval.
This comes from Health Minister Joe Phaahla speaking in an interview with 702’s Bongani Bingwa, who said the government was looking at opening vaccination access to over 18s sooner.
“We are in further consultations with our leadership in Cabinet. Before even the end of this week, we’ll probably open for all adults above 18,” Phaahla said, quoted by News24.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced during his latest address to the nation on 25 July that COVID-19 vaccinations for people between the ages of 18 and 34 would begin from 1 September. Now, it seems the government is looking to expedite the process and begin allowing what will probably be the largest vaccine-seeking group to get the jabs earlier.
The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is expected to meet today on the matter – and Cabinet, which has to approve the NCCC decisions, tomorrow. Hopefully, allowing the cohort to gain access to the much-needed jabs.
Many South Africans in the under 34 age group have taken to social media recently, complaining that they cannot receive the jab yet even as many vaccine sites are reportedly standing empty without queues.
Me and all my friends are desperate to be vaccinated, however I keep getting turned away from the empty (no queue, plenty on stock they say) vaccine site on my street because I'm under 35. They don't care about comorbidities either. The vaccines are just sitting there 😒
— Royal Dragon Sir (@RoyalDragonSir1) August 16, 2021
Alberton's vaccine site at the civic centre is very empty, says the Gauteng government urging residents 35 & older to get vaccinated without an appointment, just bring your ID.
Ok. But open walk-ins for 18-34 too, now.
— Graeme Raubenheimer (@GraemeRauby) August 16, 2021
I'm determined to get my vaccine next week. This 1 Sept date doesn't seem useful, especially with all the empty vaccine site updates we're all seeing on the TL and in the news.
— Londeka (@Londeka_ml) August 14, 2021
I wonder what would happen if a less than 35 year old shows up at a vaccine site with ID and asks for jab. Seeing that vaccine sites are really standing empty.🤔
— Coceka Mfundisi (@Cmfundisi) August 17, 2021
The number of daily vaccines in the country has also begun to wane as vaccine hesitancy increases, especially amongst South African men. Anti-vaccination attitude in the country has been spreading as social media is aflood with misinformation and conspiracy theories.
Health Department spokesperson Popo Maja said that opening the vaccination sites to those over 18 would help improve the overall vaccination rate and that the Department would be ready.
The Department has set the target of fully vaccinating 70% of the adult population by December, meaning that South Africa will have to vaccinate 29 million adults to reach the target.
By Sunday, total vaccinations in the country were 9,387,129. This means the Department will need to vaccinate just under 20 million people in four and a half months to achieve herd immunity in 2021. As the vaccination rate stands right now, this goal seems very far away.