South Africa’s political leaders may be the first to get COVID-19 vaccine shots as a way of reassuring the public that the vaccines are safe.
This is according to Department of Health Director-General Dr Anban Pillay who spoke to SABC News‘ Morning Live on Monday.
‘Take the vaccine publicly’
He said, “Before healthcare workers receive the vaccine, many may want to get the assurance that leadership has brought a vaccine that is effective and safe. So there’s been recommendations that they take the vaccine publicly.
“We certainly would want our leaders to vaccinate publicly so that everybody has confidence that this vaccine is effective and safe as well and we would encourage that. I think that when our leaders vaccinate publicly it sends a very strong message.”
Although some sections of society have expressed apprehension about the vaccines, the government is aiming to vaccinate at least 65 percent of the population to achieve herd immunity.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and other government officials are set to receive the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines at OR Tambo International Airport later on Monday.
The one million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine, obtained from the Serum Institute of India (SII), will be followed by a second batch of 500,000 later in February.
20 million doses from Pfizer
Mkhize also told Sunday Times over the weekend that South Africa has procured an additional 20 million doses from global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
He said the government will make further announcements soon, adding, “We are negotiating, largely with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, but some of it is coming via the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team and Covax.
“We are reasonably comfortable that what we have paid for, signed for and are negotiating for will cover the numbers that we are looking to vaccinate.”
The first phase of the vaccine rollout will see 1.5 million healthcare workers getting vaccinated first. The second phase will focus on essential workers, including politicians such as MP, Ministers and councillors.
In the third phase, focus will shift to vaccinating the broader population with the target being 40 million.