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Government makes U-turn on special Covid-19 vaccination groups

The government has made a U-turn two days after announcing it would prioritise certain groups, including government officials, to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

This comes after the deputy director-general in the health department, Nicholas Crisp, sent out a circular on Sunday arranging inoculations for special groups and individuals currently not eligible to receive jabs under South Africa’s phased national vaccine roll-out

The circular has, however, been withdrawn, because it was “unclear in its intentions”, Crisp said on Tuesday.

“There have been numerous comments, queries and submissions that indicate that the circular is unclear in its intentions … the circular is withdrawn in its entirety,” he said in a statement.

The circular had made it clear that government ministers, their deputies, provincial premiers, and MECs would get priority for coronavirus jabs.

It would also prioritise individuals whose vaccination was requested by the presidency, the health minister or the director general himself; diplomats and their families visiting the country; individuals needing to travel outside South Africa for work, to study, represent the country or access medical care; and individuals who had received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine outside the country.  

People living with comorbidities and at higher risk of succumbing to Covid-19 complications were not included in the circular. 

Officials in the director general’s office were not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.

South Africa is currently rolling out phase two of its Covid-19 vaccination campaign, which is targeted at people 60 years and older, educational staff, and members of the South African Police Service. People aged 50 and older can register on the Electronic Vaccine Data System; this cohort can officially begin to receive their vaccines from Thursday 15 July.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a junior daily news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She was previously a freelance journalist and a broadcaster at Maroela Media and Smile90.4FM.

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