Phase 2 of South Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout will start in May, Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni announced on Thursday.
Briefing the media on the outcomes of Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, Ntshavheni said the government has extended its Sisonke vaccine rollout programme to 54 sites across the country. The programme has vaccinated 207,808 people so far.
South Africa’s vaccine rollout
Ntshavheni said South Africa’s vaccine rollout will unfold as follows:
This phase started in February and will end in April 2021. It is targeting over 1.5 million healthcare workers across the country. “The Department of Health is on track to vaccinate all healthcare workers by the end of Phase 1,” the Minister said.
This will be implemented over six months between May and October 2021 and will target more than 13.3 million vulnerable groups, essential workers, and occupational health and safety stream.
These include workers in sectors that are critical for economic recovery such as mines, hospitality, taxi industry, retail and spaza shops, fruit and vegetable vendors, media and other applicable beneficiaries.
“The vaccination sites for Phases 2 and 3 will expand to 2,085 and will also include private sector sites to improve the efficiency and speed of the vaccination roll-out programme,” Ntshavheni said.
Ntshavheni explained that this phase will be implemented over three months between November 2021 and February 2022. It will target the remainder of South Africa’s population.
More than 22.6 million people are expected to finally receive the vaccine jabs during this period, including those who were not vaccinated in earlier phases.
“Cabinet would like to reassure South Africans of the capacity of the Department of Health, in partnership with the private sector, to undertake a mass vaccine rollout when Phase 2 gets underway,” the Minister said.
The government has come under criticism for the “slow” vaccine rollout programme, particularly from the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA).
“Undoubtedly the biggest violation of the human rights of South Africans has been government’s failure to procure COVID-19 vaccines, and its failure to put in place a rollout plan for when it might one day purchase meaningful amounts of the vaccine,” DA leader John Steenhuisen said in his Human Rights Day message earlier this week.