Government considering expanding vaccination rollout to other age groups
In a bid to ramp up SA's vaccination rollout, the government is again considering expanding access to another age group, acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said on Wednesday.
Ntshavheni said the national coronavirus command council (NCCC) met on Tuesday and Wednesday, where it received updates around the management of Covid-19 infections sweeping through the country.
As of Tuesday night, there had been 62,628 Covid-19 related deaths recorded across SA since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in March last year. There had also been 2,090,909 cases since the outbreak, of which 15,501 of them were in the preceding 24 hours.
“The updates included progress on vaccination and the decision to ramp up quickly, including that vaccinations for [the age group] 50-plus has commenced earlier than planned. The consideration for expanding to another age cohort is under way,” said Ntshaveni.
Workplace vaccinations, she added, were also opened beyond the current permitted age groups as part of the rollout, but only for “employees of the relevant sectors”.
The meeting was also given clarity that the Lambda variant was “not yet prevalent in SA”, but that “precautions must be taken”.
Ntshavheni said the council had noted that more provinces were officially in the third wave.
She said government noted that vaccinations were going well in the education and police sectors, "but also in workplace settings such as mines, agriculture and other productive settings".
“Plans are advanced for the launch of registration of the army and military veterans and other essential service workers," she said.
Last week President Cyril Ramaphosa placed the country on adjusted level 4 lockdown to curb the further spread of infections, this as the new Delta variant became the dominant strain in SA.
Ramaphosa’s cabinet implemented a hard lockdown which banned the sale of alcohol, banned gatherings, and permitted restaurants and eateries to sell takeaways only, and a curfew of 9pm to 4am. He also moved school holidays forward.
The latest measures, which began on June 28, are expected to be reviewed after Sunday July 11. TimesLIVE understands the reviewing of the current measures was not on the agenda as it’s too early to discuss whether they should be maintained or adjusted.
The government is rolling out phase 2 of its national vaccination programme. Healthcare workers were the first to receive the double-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
All citizens above the age of 50, teachers and the police are receiving the Pfizer vaccine. They will be followed by correctional services and army staff.
On Tuesday TimesLIVE reported that the government backtracked on controversial plans to vaccinate politicians which were seen as them getting vaccinated ahead of ordinary citizens.
A copy of a circular by the department of health made rounds on social media calling on ministers, their deputies, premiers and MEC’s and their staff to come forward as they were eligible to be vaccinated. After wide criticism, the government withdrew the circular.