The number of daily vaccinations surpassed 191 000 Thursday and is expected to exceed 250 000 a day by next week, the acting minister of health, Mmamoloko Kubayi, said during a briefing on Friday morning.
To date, about 5.4% of the population has been vaccinated, according to Nicholas Crisp, the deputy director general of the health department.
“The daily vaccinations are increasing at a steady rate, and at the current rate of vaccinations the country has enough doses to sustain the vaccine drive,” he said. “As we stand at the moment, that’s about 18 days of vaccine [stock available], which is the strongest position we’ve ever been in.”
He said the department will focus more on age groups and less on prioritising certain sectors, to ensure the vaccination programme covers a wider scope and brings younger people into the vaccine roll-out earlier.
Kubayi said: “On the 15th of July 2021, registration for the persons aged between 35 and 49 will open, and they will start vaccination from the 1st of August 2021.”
She encouraged people to help those in the age group 60 and older to get registered and vaccinated.
The briefing also highlighted the prevalence of the Delta variant in the third wave and that the vaccines being used are effective against it — even more so than against the Beta variant.
In a bid to boost the vaccination rate, the department of health is negotiating for funds and resources so that vaccination sites can be open on weekends, Kubayi said, adding that qualified nursing and medical students are also volunteering to help at vaccine centres over weekends.
She said provinces are coming up with creative solutions such as drive-through vaccination centres and vaccination drives at workplaces using companies’ nurses and doctors, before also going into the surrounding area to help vaccinate people there.
Crisp said there are 2 283 vaccine centres in the public sector, and 314 in the private sector. “These sites are available on the website. They are changing every day; they are moving to where the population demand is at that point in time.”
Regarding concerns that people working in the early childhood development sector had not been included in the programme to vaccinate teachers, Kubayi said that negotiations with the department of social development have been progressing well, and the target date to open vaccine registrations to ECD employees is 18 July.