Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has emphasised the importance of people being willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine, saying the public needs to ensure the safety of each other.

Mkhize says the government is working towards securing more COVID-19 vaccines for South Africa. He explains that 1.5 million vaccine doses are due to arrive in the country this month and February.

“We will not be able to force individuals to take the vaccine. However, people need to understand that by so doing, they are risking their lives of being exposed to an infection that could have been prevented and they need to be made aware of that. People must know why it needs to be done and why it is good for them and based on that they must take a positive decision on the basis of the fact that they, as responsible citizens, would like to participate in goodwill.”

Mkhize has sought to allay fears over the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine and has urged the public to be wary of bogus social media posts that discourage the use of the jab.

“There are people who are very concerned about the vaccine. We think that a lot of stuff that is circulating on social media, videos that the vaccine is bad. What we intend to do is roll out enough information to reassure the public of the need for the vaccine and its safety, and the fact that we all need it to ensure the safety of one another.”

Vaccination will be rolled-out in phases

  • Phase 1 will prioritise around 1.2 million front line healthcare workers.
  • Phase 2 will prioritise essential workers such as teachers, police, municipal workers, and other frontline personnel. Institutions like old age homes, shelters, and prisons, people over 60 years of age, and adults with co-morbidities will also be prioritised. The total number of people expected to be reached in this phase is around 16 million people.
  • Phase 3 will then vaccinate the remaining adult population of approximately 22.5 million people.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday said the country will remain on the adjusted Level 3 of the national lockdown to further curb the spread of the coronavirus.

He addressed the nation on Monday on developments in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic: