Thursday, 02 September 2021 15:20

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Deputy President David Mabuza says government aims to meet its target to vaccinate 40 million people by 31 December 2021 in order to achieve herd immunity.

"We need to get out of this situation. Our economy is devastated and our people have lost jobs, so, we can’t stay in this situation forever. Seventy percent is roughly 40 million, we reach that and we still go ahead to vaccinate the remaining [people]," the Deputy President said.

Mabuza made the remarks during a COVID-19 vaccine rollout outreach programme, in Mogale City, west of Johannesburg.

Mabuza, together with members of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on COVID-19 vaccines and Gauteng Premier David Makhura, visited a pop-up vaccination site at Kagiso Mall and Kagiso Taxi rank on Thursday, to assess the province’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout programme.

The IMC on COVID-19 vaccines identified three provinces falling short of their set targets to reach population immunity, including Gauteng Province. It then resolved to visit parts of the country experiencing challenges and identify areas of improvement.

The Deputy President visited the West Rand District Municipality, as it has been identified as the lowest performing sub-district, with only 8% of the total population vaccinated.

Mabuza called on scientists, including experts and healthcare workers to come forward and explain the benefits of getting a vaccine, as most people are reluctant to get a jab due to fake news surrounding the vaccines.

He maintained that people understand and want to vaccinate, but the problem is fake news.

"How do you deal with fake news, is to come with correct news so that you help people to understand better why they should vaccinate. Our strategy now is, let’s go to the people, let’s not sit at our vaccination sites and wait for people to come.

"From all the people we talk to, all of them said they are going to vaccinate, and they are happy that we are here and encouraging them to vaccinate. We are going to work with our councillors, using the District Development Model [and] all of us will go [out]. We are going to use this approach, going forward, "the Deputy President said.

New variant under control

The Deputy President has also allayed fears over the new COVID-19 variant C.1.2, saying it is still under control.

"For now, there is nothing to worry about. If we feel that this new variant is now a problem, the Minister of Health will announce how best we deal with it. But for now, we are tracking it … no reason to worry for now,” Mabuza said.

Significant turnaround in mineworkers

Makhura said the provincial government understands the nature of West Rand District, which is a mining area, and one of the things they do to crack the hesitancy, is working with the mine houses.

"We visited them two weeks ago [and] they are now the ones who are driving [vaccination campaign], so we have lots of mineworkers who are working in the mines. We have vaccination sites in those workplaces in the mines, and that campaign is going very well. In the last seven days they’ve been doing very well in terms of how many people are vaccinated a day, so, you will see a significant turnaround," Makhura said.

Makhura said the second element includes door-to-door work and bringing mobile sites into the communities.

He said the province has trained the community healthcare workers, as well as different community workers.

The Premier said from 1 September, the principal focus will be door-to-door work, checking how many people were living in a household; how many elderly are in there; who has and has not been vaccinated and what are the reasons.

"Where there is real resistance, they will bring the health care professionals to give them information and advice ... we have a whole programme," Makhura said.