Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has warned that he does not foresee that the country’s COVID-19 vaccination drive will unfold smoothly. He briefed Parliament’s Health Committee on the country’s rollout programme on Friday.
The first one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which will be used to vaccinate frontline health workers arrived in the country on Monday as South Africa gears up to embark on a massive vaccination programme.
However, Mkhize, has cautioned MPs that it is likely to be a bumpy ride.
“We don’t expect this plan to go smooth. In implementation, there are always areas in targets we set that we would have to revise because flow will depend on delivery, timeous delivery. Second one, is going to be logistical issues, there will be challenges. To think everything will go according to the letter I think we would be misleading you,” he said.
Mkhize addresses MPs:
Responding to concerns about the readiness of provincial health departments, Mkhize said they will be assisted. “You must expect come to a point when you realise they are ready, if not ready, we will assist until ready but won’t be surprised, we will work with them to strengthen capacity .”
He added that so far, the government has secured enough vaccinations for at least 26 million people.
“And then we have agreements now which we are finalising. We have nine million from Johnson and Johnson, another 20 million from Pfizer, another 12 million from COVAX, and all of that together will have no less than 27 million vaccines already assured.”
South Africa currently has more than 1.4 million COVID-19 cases and 45 605 deaths.