South Africa begins vaccinating its inmates using J&J vaccine

With number of vaccines administered over 5 million to date, the country commences inoculation of inmate population.

As of today, South Africa officially kicked off its programme to vaccinate its inmates. The rollout targeted at inmates was launched in Johannesburg by the Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola, who also received his shot today. “By publicly taking the jab, I wanted to allay fears and enhance public trust on vaccines. I hope more and more people will be encouraged to come forward and get vaccinated, it is in our hands, let us save lives.”, said the minister as he received his single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. According to the minister, 1,325 healthcare professionals working in correctional services, 1,899 correctional officials and 61 educators in the prison service have already been vaccinated. In addition, 1,509 inmates aged 50-59 have also been vaccinated so far.

With 138 828 inmates, the country has the highest number of incarcerated persons across the continent as well as the 12th highest in the world. According to the ministry's website, as of 18 July 2021, the country’s prisons had reported a total of 13,912 positive cases since the pandemic started, made up of 8,862 for the department’s officials and 5,050 for inmates. The department also reported 291 COVID-19 related deaths over the same period. Vaccinations are expected to be carried out across 90 approved sites located in correctional centres. This follows the Department of Social Development having kicked off the roll out for its 240,000 workforce yesterday, which is expected to run until the 23rd of July. As of 19 July, the country had administered over 5 million vaccines.