Govt doesn't know what's happening at ground level with jabs - Sama's Coetzee

Having achieved just 30% of the ambitious target of vaccinating five million people over the age of 60 by the end of the month, health experts are sounding the alarm around the deadlines and what missing them will mean for public confidence.

An older gentleman receives his COVID-19 vaccine shot on 17 May 2021. Picture: @GautengHealth/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Having achieved just 30% of the ambitious target of vaccinating five million people over the age of 60 by the end of the month, health experts are sounding the alarm around the deadlines and what missing them will mean for public confidence.

So far, about 1.5 million people over 60 have received at least one COVID-19 jab and in the next few weeks, they will have to queue up again to receive their second Pfizer shot.

However, given the slow pace of the rollout so far, experts were concerned about the way that government was running the programme.

READ: Slow vaccine rollout raises doubts over Health Dept's target of reaching 5m jabs

"The people who are sitting in government have these fairytale ideas of how many people will go for vaccinations. They don't really know what is happening at ground level."

The South African Medical Association (Sama)'s chairperson, Angelique Coetzee, said that there was no way that government would be able to reach its target by the end of this month.

In order to make its own deadline, officials would have to vaccinate more than three million people over 60 in less than two weeks.

Meanwhile, public health expert, Professor Mosa Moshabela, said that government should focus on sticking to its plans to roll out the next phases to gain public confidence.

"If government can stick to that, failing to meet the targets, if they can then set the dates and say we are going to initiate people who are 50 years and over on this particular day alongside people who are 60 years and older, that would be critical."

According to the latest available data, in Gauteng, the department had vaccinated only 16.5% of the 1.3 million people over the age of 60.

The provincial Health Department said that it could only move to the next phase if national government made the call.

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