The South African Medical Research Council says government is working to ensure more coronavirus vaccinations will reach healthcare workers in rural areas.

This comes after the first batch of the Pfizer vaccines arrived in South Africa on Sunday evening. This will be followed by weekly deliveries of thousands of doses.

Over 329 000 healthcare workers have so far been inoculated with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine nationwide.

Council CEO, Professor Glenda Gray says, “Initially there was some vaccine hesitancy but over the week the queues picked up and the demand started to increase. So we are very happy and we are continuing this week. We are continuing to take this in to the rural areas and make sure that we get the vaccine to people, doctors and nurses who are more rural areas of the country.”

AUDIO: Full interview with Prof Gray:

Pfizer vaccine

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says close to 4.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected in South Africa before the end of June as the country prepares to start Phase Two of its COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

Mkhize says market doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines are expected to be released from pharmaceutical company, Aspen’s, plant in Gqeberha from the middle of this month.

He said the vaccination of healthcare workers will continue with both the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines.

It is expected that more than 1.2 million healthcare workers will be vaccinated by May 16 with Phase Two of the programme initially targeting people 60 years and older starting on the 17th.

VIDEO: Health Expert, Dr Fundile Nyati says government is on track to meet its vaccination targets: