South Africa has set itself an ambitious target of reaching herd immunity of 40-million vaccinated people by the end of this year. This was announced by deputy president, David Mabuza while visiting Kagiso township west of Johannesburg.

The visit formed part of the outreach programme of the Inter-Ministerial on COVID-19 vaccines.

The committee has identified three provinces including Gauteng which are falling short of their targets to reach population immunity.

Deputy President David Mabuza accompanied by Gauteng premier David Makhura and other senior government officials visited the Kagiso shopping mall and the local taxi rank where they interacted with communities to urge them to go and vaccinate for COVID-19.

Some of the residents gave different reasons why they have not yet been vaccinated.

Young people, who are among the 18-years plus cohort that is now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccinations, say they do not trust the vaccine.

“I do not trust these vaccines. I have not yet been vaccinated, we do not trust. It makes you sick. And you become scared that what if you vaccinate and it makes you sick.”

Gauteng premier David Makhura is concerned.

“We are worried as a province, it is a high-density province. We have 11 million adults in Gauteng. We need to reach at least 10. 4 million.  At the moment we have done over 3 million vaccinations. The precise number of people who have at least one jab is two and a half million of them. We know those who are fully vaccinated are almost one and half million. We have a long journey to cover.”

But the deputy president is adamant the target of 40 million herd immunity by December is still within reach. With the current pace of the vaccine rollout and the hesitancy especially among men – could we see this target be revised?

“We think we must work for December. We need to get out of this situation. Our economy is devastated our people have lost jobs. We can’t be staying in this situation forever. So we must push, we must pull ourselves out of this problem.”

Government says the approach going forward will be to do door-to-door visits in homes to urge people to vaccinate and not wait at vaccination sites for people to turn up. Trained community workers will visit homes to check who has vaccinated and who has not. And if there’s still hesitancy health workers will be brought in to give information. Makhura says the West Rand being a largely mining area, they are already working with mining companies to deal with Vaccine hesitancy and set up vaccination sites.

“We sent our mobile units to these entertainment areas. We are working with those who are running these entertainment areas. Now we have agreed with the sporting fraternity to open more. To move to the next level, we need to vaccinate more. And we can’t force people to vaccinate but we can incentivize them.”

Mabuza says they will visit other provinces including the North West, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape in their quest to reach the 31st December target.

Deputy President DD Mabuza, Gauteng Premier Makhura on COVID-19 vaccine rollout programme: