Just days after South African President Cyril Ramaphosa lambasted rich countries for practicing “vaccine nationalism” by providing coronavirus jabs to their own populations first, his Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has announced that the government would do the same by vaccinating only its citizens in the country.According to Mkhize on Saturday night, the shunting aside of undocumented foreign nationals from accessing the Covid-19 vaccine was due to his government’s lack of capacity to vaccinate them while they are here.
The country is expecting to receive its first AstraZeneca vaccine batch of one million Covid-19 doses on Monday as part of a 20-million-dose consignment it has secured from India, the minister said.
Mkhize explained to his compatriots that all they need when they go for vaccination “is to show that you have got an Identification Document.”
“And that you are a South African registered voter.”
He added: “For those who are undocumented (foreigners), we are not able to deal with you because, at the moment, we would like to be able to deal with people based on the South African registration.”
According to the minister, the South African government currently has no plans to deal with undocumented foreigners.
He revealed that no South African would be forced to have the vaccination.
“In fact, we will promote it. We will explain to the people for them to know it’s beneficial,” he said.
He said the government would ensure that people make their own decisions.
Anyone taking the vaccine would be required to sign a consent form “so it’s clear that you agreed to it,” according to the minister.
According to press reports, this precautionary measure is a requirement from all Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers who have asked governments worldwide to guarantee that their citizens would not file lawsuits against them should something go medically wrong after being administered by the hurriedly-manufactured vaccines.
South Africa plans to vaccinate more than 40 million people, or 67% of its population, in order to achieve “herd immunity” that would assist in slowing down the pandemic, the minister said.
South Africa, undergoing a second wave of a surging pandemic stoked by a highly transmissible Covid-19 variant, has lost over 44,000 people to the virus which has killed over two million people worldwide.