“Yes, we acknowledge the current fluctuating vaccine uptake in the country, and we are employing various targeted strategies, including incentives programmes, mass media communication campaigns to empower our people with health education and vaccine benefits to enable them to make well informed choices,” said National Department of Health spokesperson Foster Mohale.
“All these are informed by vaccination data at our disposal to increase vaccine demand creation and take vaccine to the people as part of government programme of taking services to the people. Through this data, we know which age groups are lagging behind with vaccination and we believe our strong collaboration with business sector, civil society, NGOs, and other patriotic citizens will bear fruit.
“We have recently launched a youth-led vaccination campaign called #Ke-Ready or #IamReady. Part of the efforts are to encourage young people to vaccinate in numbers through open and frank conversations, to listen to their reservations and barriers to accessing vaccines, together with recommendations on how the government can better serve them,” he added.
“We have embarked on public educational programme with the help of GCIS, which is in the custodian of government communication in SA, through mass media, radio, and social, to address public concerns, counter misinformation and fake news, while sharing the benefits of taking life-saving treatment.” Mohale strongly denied that the shortening of the of Covid-19 vaccine dosing intervals had anything to do with vaccination expiration dates. “The recent announcement on the shortened intervals, mixing and matching of vaccines, is part of our ongoing scientifically based adjustments taken in the best interest of the health of our people, and this has nothing to do with vaccine expiry,” Mohale said. “Lastly, we don't know whether the same question of stockpile vs expiration is posed to other countries when they adjust their vaccination programmes. For example, other countries have already began vaccinating children as young as five years.”
Weighing in on the situation, South Africa Medical Association (Sama) interim chairperson, Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa said although he acknowledged that government may have side-lined the matter of urgency somewhat when it came to the rollout of Covid-19 vaccination, he believed it didn’t help arguing about how we got to where we are. “Instead, we need to look at solutions. What we can do now as doctors is to find out when seeing patients if they are vaccinated, if they aren’t then ask why and encourage them to get vaccinated,” Dr Mzukwa said.