Medical experts urge govt to speed up COVID-19 vaccine rollout to avoid 3rd wave

Pulmonologist doctor Dante Plekker said speeding up vaccinations is crucial now more than ever.

Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo gets her COVID-19 vaccine shot at the Tygerberg Hospital on 23 February 2021. Picture: Kevin Brandt/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - Medical experts are warning government needs to speed up South Africa's vaccination rollout to curb a third and even a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections.

Many are worried the Easter Break may have fuelled the infection rate.

Whether that will lead to another major surge remains to be seen.

Although active cases remained stable over the last week, experts fear gatherings and travelling using public transport over the long weekend can lead to an increase in infections over the next week or two.

Pulmonologist doctor Dante Plekker said speeding up vaccinations is crucial now more than ever.

"We definitely need to speed up our rate of vaccination in order for us to try and prevent a third and fourth wave."

The first phase of the vaccine programme which involves inoculating health workers started in February. To date around 270,000 healthcare workers received jabs.

Phase 2 of the vaccination rollout - when high risk people, such as the elderly and people living with co-morbidities will be vaccinated - is expected to begin in May.

Plekker said vulnerable groups should also be covered before the next surge.

"That is something that certainly should be prioritised starting to vaccinate people other than health care workers but OBS the log behind that is quite enormous time it remains to be seen how the government will manage that".

Government had to admit the rollout is too slow.

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)

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