South African President Cyril Ramaphosa lined up with fellow citizens to get his coronavirus vaccination injection during an exercise which kicked off nationwide on Wednesday.“I would like to invite all South Africans to take up the vaccine so that we could all be safe,” the president said after getting his injection.
Ramaphosa, joined by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize in Cape Town township Khayelitsha, said they had decided to get a public injection in order to promote against “vaccine hesitancy” of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The country received some 80,000 doses of its first batch of a nine-million consignment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Tuesday, and on Wednesday morning kicked off the vaccination programme targeting health workers first.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the second batch of vaccines to arrive in South Africa after the AstraZeneca vaccine which was later found to offer little protection against the Covid-19 variant currently prevalent in the country.
The AstraZeneca vaccine, imported from India 17 days ago, would now be given to the African Union for distribution in other African countries, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been given the green light to be rolled out in the country, the president said.
He added: “We are pleased that we are able to begin vaccination. This is despite the fact that the AstraZeneca vaccine that we had procured for this purpose showed little efficacy against the 501Y.V2 variant that is currently dominant in South Africa.”
Ramaphosa said the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine would protect healthcare workers from illness and possible death from Covid-19 which has claimed more than 48,000 lives in the country since March last year.