South Africa expects to roll out its 21.5 million coronavirus vaccine doses in three phases over a year to cover 40% of the population, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Friday.Mkhize revealed that the country had ordered 21.5 million vaccine doses from three manufacturers which will be used to vaccinate the targeted population, but there were no fixed terms for doing the particular phases.
The minister told the press that 1.5 million doses would be bought from Oxford-AstraZeneca, nine million doses from Johnson & Johnson, and 12 million doses from COVAX, a UN World Health Organisation facility.
“We are working on a broad guide that will be done with the first phase within a three-month period, the following six months will be the second phase, and then the third phase should come after that,” Mkhize said.
He added: “But they could overlap, depending on how many vaccines we have ordered.”
South Africa has targeted the vaccination of 67% percent of the population or 40 million people to reach what it called a “herd immunity” that would help to slow down the surging pandemic 10 months into its breakout in the country.
Mkhize said the approach being adopted by the South African government was “to continue with all the containment measures.”
“Even if others are already immunised, the rest of the people must get vaccinated. And once immunity is developed, you are most likely have developed resistance from getting infected.”
He however warned that vaccinated individuals “may still be a source of infection.”
“If a vaccinated person touches a surface that has a droplet with the virus, you can pass it on to someone who has not been vaccinated.
“Therefore, we will have to continue with preventive measures until we are safe,” he said, citing the three W’s of “washing hands, watching social distance and wearing masks” in public.