Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says pregnant women and newborns will not be vaccinated for now because they didn’t participate in trials to determine the safety of the vaccine.

South Africa will receive its first one million doses of vaccines from India’s Serum Institute on Monday.

When they arrive, the vaccines will undergo quarantine and quality assurance processes, which could take up to 14 days before they are distributed to all provinces.

Mkhize says the vaccines show mild side effects.

“There haven’t been any recorded serious side effects. However, there are mild like reported allergic reactions and so on. There have not been trials done on pregnant women and new-born babies and therefore, there will not be included in the vaccination initially, until all of those issues are sorted out.”

Mkhize adds, “But people with other comorbidities will be allowed to take the vaccine because some of those (who) went through the trial did not show any serious problems.”

Mkhize talks on the vaccine in the video below:

Minister Mkhize says way more than the original 40 million targets may have to vaccinated against COVID-19 for the country to achieve herd immunity. Mkhize says this all depends on the immune response.

“We are saying to get population immunity, we calculated that we need about 67% to 70% of the population to be vaccinated. It does depend on a number of issues. One of the issues is whether we’re using predominantly the vaccine that has got an efficacy of 90 or 60 and so on. If that is the situation it might change the numbers and so on. We might end up having to increase the number of people who must be vaccinated. There are still numbers of issues there that we are going to clarify.”

The pending vaccine is being bulk produced by India’s Serum Institute, which is the world’s largest vaccine maker. The company has already manufactured 50 million doses.

As SABC’s Neha Poonia reports the first batch of COVID19 vaccines will arrive from India soon:

Vaccine rollout limited to SA citizens

The Minister says the vaccine rollout will be limited to South African citizens only. He says government does not have the capacity to assist undocumented foreign nationals.

“No one will be forced to vaccinate. Actually, we will promote it, we will explain for people to know it’s beneficial and we would like people to take their own decision on that and when you take the vaccine you sign consent so it’s clear that you consented to it.

“All you need when you go is to show that you have got an ID. You are a South African registered voter. For those who are undocumented, we are not able to deal with that because at the moment we would like to be able to deal with people based on the SA registration. So at this point, we have no plan to deal with those that are not documented.”

Over 42 000 people have succumbed to the deadly COVID-19 within a year in South Africa.

SA prepares to receive first batch of vaccine: