High levels of vaccine hesitancy is impacting the country’s target to reach herd immunity by December.
South Africa (SA) has managed to procure enough COVID-19 vaccine doses for around 80% of its population. The National Department of health had previously set a target to vaccinate 70% of the adult population by December 2021 for the country to achieve herd immunity. Recently medical scheme giant, Discovery Health shared data from its actuarial team’s ongoing analysis of the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic and the real-world effectiveness of vaccines. The group’s analysis noted that vaccine hesitancy is a key deterrent to vaccine uptake in the country and based on current vaccinated population levels and projections, it is unlikely that SA will meet this target. As per Discovery’s data the country will most likely finish the year with slightly more than 50% of the adult population being vaccinated.
“The demand for vaccination has unfortunately slowed”, said chief executive of Discovery Health, Dr Ryan Noach. Similarly, at a COVID-19 briefing last week, the health department admitted that it won't be able to make vaccine target by the end of the year. Despite this, Health Minister Joe Phaahla still urged people to reach this target. The department's acting Director General Nicholas Crisp said they realised that the turnout at vaccine sites has been declining despite efforts to attract more people. The country has the capacity to vaccinate 300,000 people every day using both private and public facilities. As of yesterday, 116 new cases and a further 20 deaths were reported bringing total deaths to 89,352 with a fourth wave expected to hit the country over the December holiday period.