The Western Cape will need to vaccinate 3.5 million people to reach herd immunity. The province has to date administered just over 500 000 vaccine doses, but says the reluctance in some communities may hamper their efforts.

The province is now firmly in the third wave of infections with some 2000 cases being reported daily.

There are currently 206 active public sector vaccination sites across the Western Cape.

This week, the mass vaccination site, Centre of Hope at the Cape Town International Convention Centre came online, with another, at the Athlone stadium due to be opened next month.

Health authorities, however say their ability to reach their vaccination targets depends on a steady vaccine supply and the ability and willingness of people to register and vaccinate.

Western Cape Head Of Health, Dr Keith Cloete, says the province would like to reach herd immunity by November.

“Our aim in this province is to get that done as quickly as feasibly as possible. There are two determinants, it is people coming forward and wanting to be vaccinated and then we must then work with the ones that are reluctant to convince them to be vaccinated, and a second one is to have the supply and mechanism delivery mechanism to do that, we are bringing both to bear. And what we always aim for is that we want to get to herd immunity by November this year or even before November, so it’s very steep targets and we want to get to that as soon as possible,” says Cloete.

In the Cape Metro, Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha have been cited as areas of concern with low registrations.

Western Cape Health MEC, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, says if over 60s do not vaccinate, it will clog the health system.

“When you still have over 200 000 over 60ss who are not vaccinated yet, it means that when they get infected, it means that they will clog the health system as we know that the older you become the more you are highly getting COVID illnesses and also the death.”

Authorities say 67% of public healthcare workers have now been vaccinated, with active cases down from 600 in November and December to 310 currently – an indication that vaccines work.

Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde, says herd immunity is important to start growing the economy again.

“We need to move toward herd immunity so that we can actually start to spend time working on getting the jobs back that we’ve lost, on growing the economy, on getting us out of where we are because of the impact of COVID-19,” he adds.

There are more than 24 000 active cases in the province.

Non-emergency healthcare services have been scaled back, with field hospital beds reactivated as cases surge.

Western Cape department of health ramps up vaccinations amid third wave of COVID-19 infections: