Stage set for 'rapid expansion' of SA's vaccination programme, says Mkhize
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced on Tuesday that the deal to bring in 20 million Pfizer vaccines had been signed
The deal to bring in 20 million Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines has been officially signed, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday.
Once payment processes were completed, he said, the country would “close the deal in the next few days”.
“With the Johnson & Johnson agreement also fully concluded, this sets the stage for a significant and rapid expansion of our vaccination programme,” he said.
The announcement comes as Mkhize confirmed that 437 new Covid-19 cases had been confirmed across SA in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of infections to date to 1,552,853. There were also 37 new Covid-19 related deaths recorded in 24 hours, taking the death toll from the pandemic to 53,032.
In his statement on Tuesday, Mkhize also confirmed that the final tranche of 200,000 Johnson & Johnson doses for the Sisonke Protocol — the programme under which health workers are being vaccinated — was expected to arrive in SA on April 19.
“These doses will take us to the last mile of the Sisonke Protocol, which is set to become one of the most seminal studies in the history of the pandemic,” said the minister. “Similarly, we will also embark on an implementation study with a limited number of Pfizer doses used among health-care workers. This will be yet another valuable contribution to the science of mass vaccination.”
Mkhize said that a “revised strategy” ahead of the mass vaccination campaign was needed, based on lessons learnt from the vaccination of health workers.
“In preparation for the mass vaccination campaign, we have undertaken a deep study of the Sisonke Protocol to draw lessons from the programme and enhance the efficiency of future operations. We have also continued to engage stakeholders across all sectors to sensitise ourselves to the needs of various communities.
“Upon deeper inspection and reflection, the Department of Health has worked on a revised strategy to ensure that the vaccination campaign targets the most pressing public health and economic relief that vaccination should achieve. These revisions will require extensive yet urgent consultation to ensure that the final programme expresses the will of the people.
“Upon completion of the ratification process, we will announce the details of the revised vaccination programme to the public and call on the first group of eligible citizens to register on the Electronic Vaccination System,” he said.