What will the festive season be like this year? David Mabuza says it depends on vaccinations

09 September 2021 - 10:00
Deputy President David Mabuza has urged citizens to get vaccinated. File photo.
Deputy President David Mabuza has urged citizens to get vaccinated. File photo.
Image: GCIS

Deputy President David Mabuza says the ball is in your court regarding this year's festive season.

On Wednesday, Mabuza launched the government’s mass vaccination campaign “Return to play - It’s in your hands” in Johannesburg, ahead of December's festivities.

The social mobilisation programme calls on all citizens to play their part by vaccinating to reduce the rate of infections, hospitalisation and deaths.

Mabuza said the desire to return to stadiums, theatres and arenas, concerts and fashion shows, lies with citizens to go out and mobilise for the vaccination of communities.

“If we are to revive our vibrant creative industries, return to theatres and stadiums to play and enjoy sport and entertainment, it is important that our vaccination programme is accelerated to reach as many people as possible,” he said.

As part of the programme, Mabuza said people must reach out and educate communities about the benefits of vaccines, and dispel myths and the spread of fake and untrue conspiracy theories about vaccines.

“A vaccinated nation is what it will take to once again open the stadium for the popular Soweto derby, it is what it will take to open the Cape Town Jazz Festival, the Macufe and other prominent music events in our calendar, and indeed a vaccinated nation is what it will take to open the Durban July and other similar events,” said Mabuza.

Mabuza called on artists, athletes and leaders in sport and creative sectors to be flag-bearers in promoting Covid-19 vaccinations, saying they are the embodiment of hope, resilience and force of unity to get all communities behind the national vaccination programme.

Last month, general practitioners Dr Marlin McKay and Dr Hillary Mukudu told TimesLIVE it would likely be unsafe for South Africans to hold mass gatherings during the festive season, even though millions are expected to have received their Covid-19 jabs by then.

Mukudu said it was too early to tell if SA can return to some kind of normality even with high vaccine coverage.

“The science of the disease is rapidly evolving and in an ideal setting that is what we would be hoping for. It may be too early to know in our setting, but the predicted fourth wave of infections before the end of the year will shed more light,” he said.

“We’re assuming most youth will be vaccinated. If in that gathering you have what we call relative herd immunity, where between 60% and 70% of the youth in that gathering have been vaccinated, then it is safer than what it is now,” said McKay.

“While we’re assuming many young people will be vaccinated, it doesn’t mean lowering our guard and leaving masks at home for at least a few years. The argument is that if it is less risky, that does not mean we can take chances and lower our guard.”