First day of vaccine roll-out programme a success

President Cyril Ramaphosa receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

“Day one of the first phase of COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout to health workers was a huge success…”

The Health Department has given South Africa the thumbs up as the country began its first round of the vaccination rollout programme on Wednesday.

Yesterday, the country watched as healthcare workers lined-up to receive the shot of the 80 0000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines that landed on Tuesday, alongside President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize.

“Day one of the first phase of COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout to health workers was a huge success today,” the Health Department said on Wednesday.

The department said South Africa secured the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine for use in the Sisonke ‘Together’ study, which will be distributed to up to 500 000 healthcare workers in 18 public sector hospitals across all nine provinces.

Meanwhile, the organised labour leadership is expected to receive their shots as a demonstration of confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine at Steve Biko Academic Hospital today.

“These are leaders who are health workers themselves,” the department explained.

The State reiterated that protecting frontline workers remains an urgent priority; who are three to four times more likely to contract COVID-19 than the general population.

Since the outbreak, the department has reported 40 000 South African health workers who have contracted COVID-19, while 6 473 have been hospitalised, with 663 deaths.

South Africa’s rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was suspended earlier this month after studies released showed that it is less effective against the mutated SARS-CoV-2 501Y.V2 variant, which is common in South Africa.