Health Dept confident COVID-19 vaccine programme gaining momentum

The department's Nicholas Crisp said that they were hoping that their plan to get as many as 35 million people jabbed by the end of the year would be exceeded.

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 - The Health Department said although there was still a lot of work to do to get the entire adult population vaccinated by early next year, experts were confident that the programme was gaining good momentum.

More than 1.4 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses produced locally are being dispatched across the country this week.

The department's Nicholas Crisp said that they were hoping that their plan to get as many as 35 million people jabbed by the end of the year would be exceeded.

READ MORE: Release of J&J jabs from SA plant hailed as major boost for Africa

“Vaccinators are getting more confident and doing more vaccinations today. More vaccination points, using pop-ups and mobiles and moving around in some mass sites in various places, getting into the workplace doing vaccination there. There are a whole lot of different strategies that are happening, one of which is to make some sites available over weekends as well. It’s more difficult than it looks,” Crisp said.

Meanwhile, vaccinology professor at Wits University, Shabir Madhi, said that further mutations of the virus were inevitable, but it was not yet clear if people would need booster vaccines in the future to be protected against new variants.

“The type of mutations that take place might actually reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine against mild infection but much less so in preventing severe disease. So what we've seen with all of the different variants is that they've generally maintained protection against severe disease, they've been more variable in the effectiveness against milder forms of illness, and infection,” Prof. Madhi said.

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