Health Dept withdraws decision to allow special groups to get COVID-19 vaccine

It's been reported there are special dispensations for those needing to travel for work or business, those studying abroad, sportsmen or women who are required to travel in order to represent the nation and residents needing to access healthcare overseas.

FILE: A vaccinator recording the details of a vaccine set to be given to a healthcare worker at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria on 17 February 2021. Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - The Health Department has now withdrawn a decision to allow special groups that are not eligible for COVID-19 vaccines to apply for a jab.

It's been reported that there were special dispensations for those needing to travel for work or business, those studying abroad, sportsmen or women who were required to travel in order to represent the nation and residents needing to access healthcare overseas.

The department's deputy director-general, Nicholas Crisp, explained the retraction.

"It attracted so much more attention than anticipated. I suppose it was to be expected that people had responded so much to it, most of what people are responding to is not in line with what we were intending to achieve, so it's obviously not clear enough, and it's created an administrative nightmare."

He said that the vaccination process for those who had legitimate reasons for travelling abroad would be reopened in the future.

"The intention was to create a mechanism where we would be able to take people who are not in the age category and make it possible for them to get their vaccinations to travel. We still need to think how to do that because we still feel that it's a legitimate concern. It was just not well worded and not easy to administer at all."

Crisp said that they had noted public accusations of vaccine inequity.

"We are aware of that, but you can't hold everybody up and hold the economy up, so we are very mindful of equity, whether that's between insured and uninsured groups but there are people who have legitimate reasons to travel.

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