DA slams ‘shambolic’ vaccine rollout amid third wave fears

18 May 2021 - 11:00 By Cebelihle Bhengu
DA leader John Steenhuisen says government should have roped in more pharmacies and general practitioners to help speed up the inoculation process. File photo.
DA leader John Steenhuisen says government should have roped in more pharmacies and general practitioners to help speed up the inoculation process. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times

Despite the feel-good stories about people getting their jabs, DA leader John Steenhuisen has slammed the second phase of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout saying it was off to “a slow and shambolic start”.

He lamented, among other things, the 87 vaccination sites as a hindrance in getting as many South Africans vaccinated as quickly as possible. 

The government in partnership with the private sector launched phase two on Monday through which it targets people over 60 and healthcare workers.

Of the 87 vaccination sites, 83 were in the public sector and four in the private sector. Health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Sunday the department hopes to increase the number to 200 by the end of the week. 

Steenhuisen said four vaccination sites in the private sector are not enough, and claimed government should have roped in more pharmacies and general practitioners (GPs) to help speed up the inoculation process.

“Only four private sector sites will be operational today. This is astonishing when one considers the thousands of GPs and pharmacies across the country, and the enormous potential of the private sector to deliver jabs to arms. It is inexplicable why so few permits have been issued to private sector entities to approve them as vaccination sites.”

He also criticised the decision to sell one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in March. 

The jabs were sold to the African Union after they were found to have lower efficacy against the dominant variant of Covid-19 in SA. 

“Our government has had many months to plan this rollout, much more time than our peer countries, whose rollouts are mostly well under way. Furthermore, the government had the option of administering the one million AstraZeneca doses that were delivered in March. This would have provided an opportunity to iron out teething problems,” said Steenhuisen. 

The DA leader called on the government to act swiftly as the threat of a third wave of infections looms. He said immunity against Covid-19 will help SA save jobs and livelihoods. 

The elderly and health workers queued for the vaccine across the country on Monday. The jab was well received by many, some in old age homes, who said the vaccine brings them hope.

Ethelwyn van Eck, 84, received her jab at the Elphin Lodge Retirement Village in  Johannesburg on Monday. She told TimesLIVE she has not contracted Covid-19 and hopes the vaccine will protect her from the coronavirus so she can spend more time with her family. 

“I have to live on to see my family grow. I plan to do that. I’ve accepted it is a dangerous disease. I had to be in quarantine, which I knew was for my own good. For about seven months I couldn’t see my family, but luckily we used WhatsApp to connect, which was a great comfort,” she said. 



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