Mkhize pushes back COVID-19 herd immunity target to next year

With the aim to vaccinate five million healthcare workers by the end of next month, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that the vaccination process would pick up soon as more sites and more vaccines became available.

An elderly woman receives her COVID-19 vaccine jab with the start of the second phase of South Africa's vaccine rollout on 17 May 2021. Picture: @GautengHealth/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has pushed back the target to reach herd immunity to the end of the year, now saying that government will only be able to inoculate 40 million people by the first quarter of next year.

Mkhize inspected some old age homes in Gauteng on Monday to monitor their rollout plans as part of government’s COVID-19 vaccine programme aimed at the elderly and health workers.

The minister hailed Monday as a success, with all 87 vaccine sites operational on the first day.

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With the aim to vaccinate five million healthcare workers by the end of next month, Minister Mkhize said that the vaccination process would pick up soon as more sites and more vaccines became available.

In some areas, health workers were left frustrated at not being able to get their jab today after Mkhize warned that the provinces would not allow any walk-ins at facilities for now.

"Later on in the week, we'll be calling to say those that may not have got their messages or health workers must move to the sites so that we can deal with them. They'll be registered on the spot."

But what about the elderly who are not able to visit the sites but are also not in old age homes? Mkhize said that a plan was in place already.

"Those who are bedridden, who cannot come to the centres, we would like them to use the call centre so that they can indicate where they are. Then, in a number of areas, we're putting up mobile units."

Government warned that even after receiving a vaccine, people must continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

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