Gauteng leads way in vaccination registration despite unrest
The country’s vaccination programme is continuing despite the violence in parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, Business for SA (B4SA) said on Friday.
After days of protests and sporadic looting, the national government halted vaccinations in areas where sites were affected by the unrest.
B4SA chairperson Martin Kingston said while the unrest had affected vaccinations in Gauteng and KZN, it was encouraging to see that Gauteng was recording the highest vaccination rates in the country.
“We are, however, extremely concerned about the low rates of vaccination in KwaZulu-Natal, and the impact that the unrest continues to have on the overall healthcare system in that province.
“This includes the impact on testing capability, the availability of critical medical services, medication, oxygen and general supplies, and on healthcare workers’ ability to travel to their place of work,” he said.
Kingston said the number of national daily vaccinations dropped to between 137,000 and 146,000 earlier this week, but was back up to 172,466 on Thursday.
“Keeping the vaccination programme on track is vital. Government is doing well to reroute vaccines from affected areas to those unaffected by the unrest, so this, combined with an increased capacity and demand, means we are able to use all the vaccination stock in the system currently.”
He said B4SA was working closely with the government to ensure that challenges were addressed and resolved as quickly as possible.
Acting minister of health Mmamoloko Kubayi also announced that more than one million people in the 35 to 49-year-old age group had registered for vaccinations on the electronic vaccine data system (EVDS) in the first 24 hours of being eligible.
Kingston said he was concerned about the looting of pharmacies, medical centres and the theft of medicines and a small quantity of vaccines.
He cautioned that it was crucial that the public only buy medication from registered, accredited pharmacies or medical facilities, and only received vaccines from registered vaccination sites.
“Stolen vaccines will not have been stored under the correct conditions, and medications that are not properly dispensed could cause serious harm.
“Business and government are also working closely with labour and civil society to combat lawlessness by identifying at-risk areas and critical infrastructure and ensuring that they are both protected.”
He said their modelling showed that if calm was restored to areas affected by unrest, there was capacity to catch up the rate of national vaccinations, which was supposed to have seen in excess of 200,000 people getting the jab a day by now.
“The rollout so far is testament to what we can achieve when we all work together. And to maintain that momentum, we must also work together to quell the unrest and rebuild our country.”