Ramaphosa asks religious leaders to support Vooma Vaccination Weekend

To try to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations, President Cyril Ramaphosa has written to religious leaders and trade unions asking them to support upcoming inoculation drives.

FILE: A woman receives a dose of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine from a healthcare worker at the Zwartkops Raceway in Centurion on 13 August 2021. Picture: Phill Magakoe/AFP

CAPE TOWN - To try to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations, President Cyril Ramaphosa has written to religious leaders and trade unions asking them to support upcoming inoculation drives.

The leaders have been asked to participate in local events, community outreaches, and to lend their support in promoting awareness of vaccination sites in every district.

The Vooma initiative is aimed at getting as many jabs into arms as possible by the end of the year and the government said it needed the help of various sectors.

The next Vooma Vaccination Weekend starts on Friday and runs until Sunday.

While infections are low, the Health Department said South Africa needs to prepare for a fourth wave.

While the country is unlikely to avert the fourth wave, a higher vaccination rate over the next month could substantially reduce its impact, especially if coverage among people aged 50 and older could be accelerated. To date, over 80% of confirmed COVID-19 deaths have been in this age group.

"Three out of five people aged 50 and older have now had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine," said Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla.

"If we can get close to five out of five people in this age group vaccinated by the end of the year, we will crush the power of the fourth wave by substantially reducing the number of hospital admissions and deaths," Phaahla said.

The first Vooma Vaccination Weekend achieved 75% of its target of 500,000 vaccinations over the three-day period, and the health department hopes to achieve 100% of that target in the next Vooma Weekend.