The government is determined to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19. It has launched a campaign titled “Return to Play- It’s in Your Hands.”

The initiative seeks to get more people to come forward to vaccinate, helping the country reach herd immunity. Deputy President David Mabuza and Sports, Arts, and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa introduced the campaign in Johannesburg.

Sports personalities and musicians united and lamented the COVID-19 pandemic and its crippling impact on their industries.

It has been over 500 days since the country has been under lockdown and no one has been able to attend a soccer match apart from players and their support team.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura says that has to change.

“Today marks the return to FNB stadium. We have been forced to make major readjustments in our lives.”

However, Makhura says this can only happen if herd immunity is reached.

“We can only fully return to some new normality when we have vaccinated almost 80 % of our population.”

It has not been an easy task, with many people choosing not to vaccinate. SAFA President Danny Jordaan says they plan to give free tickets to people who have been vaccinated to attend matches at stadiums.

However, they will be guided by the Coronavirus Command Council.

“When you look at what happens in Europe, why is it that Euro finals can have over 60 000 people in the stadium? Can have fans celebrating before, during, and after the match? In the match against Ethiopia, we are going to give 50% of the tickets to fans which we will distribute freely. Provided you are vaccinated.”

Since last month, all South Africans over the age of 18 were encouraged to vaccinate. However, many are reluctant. Mabuza believes communication is a key factor.

“We have no doubt that, with the active participation of leaders and practitioners in the creative sectors and sport, we will reach every village, every suburb, and every street corner to get South Africans vaccinated.”

Deputy President David Mabuza’s address at the launch of the vaccination drive: 

Former Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs player Siphiwe Tshabalala has called on the public to get the vaccine.

“I for one I will be honest. I was very skeptical and very hesitant to take it. Then I conducted my own research and spoke to different doctors and I realised that it’s the right thing to do. Not so long ago I took my jab on live tv and I’m here. I’m alive.”

Springbok Captain Siya Kolisi agrees.

“I would like to encourage every single person to try to register to get vaccinated as we want to get back to as much normality as possible.”

Among those who attended the launch were musicians Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Big Zulu and DJ Tira.