‘Bring arms and the men’: Health chief’s plea as vaccine rollout loses momentum

13 August 2021 - 09:14 By Dave Chambers and dave chambers
The Covid-19 vaccination programme has lost momentum, according to health department deputy director-general Nicholas Crisp.
The Covid-19 vaccination programme has lost momentum, according to health department deputy director-general Nicholas Crisp.
Image: SEBABATSO MOSAMO

South Africa's Covid-19 vaccination rollout has lost momentum, the health department said on Friday.

Deputy director-general Nicholas Crisp, who is in charge of the rollout, said impetus was lost when vaccine supplies ran low two weeks ago.

“Every province has lost momentum,” Crisp told a media briefing led by health minister Joe Phaahla. “This slowing down and drop-off of vaccinations on a daily basis is something we need to pick up as a nation.”

Registrations for the jab are also decreasing, said Crisp, describing Thursday's total of 53,379 registrations on the electronic vaccination data system as “really a pretty poor show ... there's a lot of room for improvement”.

Total registrations now number 9.2-million. About 7.2-million people have received at least one dose of vaccine and of these 4-million are fully vaccinated.

“There will be a fourth wave [of Covid-19 infections], without a doubt, and we need to protect ourselves by vaccinating,” said Crisp.

He repeated his concern that only 40% of those vaccinated so far are men. “This is not good because it means men are going to end up very sick and in hospital, and we don't want that close to Christmas,” he said.

Vaccinations will be available to 18 to 34-year-olds from September 1, and Crisp said it was vital that older people had the jab before then. So far, only 25% of 35 to 49-year-olds and 42% of 50 to 59-year-olds have been vaccinated.

The 17-million people in the 18-34 group “will come in numbers” from September, said Crisp, “then the [older adults] are going to wait in longer queues”.

He added: “Our conclusion is that we are sitting in a situation where we don't have a vaccine constraint. Our capacity is strong, now we need vaccine demand.”

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