South Africa extends COVID-19 vaccine rollout to 18 years and older

Vaccination opens earlier than expected for 18-34 cohort as SA hopes to improve vaccine uptake.

The government has confirmed that COVID-19 vaccinations for young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 years will open from Friday, 20 August. This was announced during a virtual cabinet meeting held on Wednesday as part of efforts to increase the vaccine roll-out in the country. “Scientific evidence confirms that vaccinated people stand a better chance of surviving from COVID-19 than unvaccinated people. Therefore, we must all dispel the unfounded and misleading conspiracy theories about the vaccines and choose life by vaccinating.”, said the cabinet. The electronic vaccination data system was initially supposed to open on 1 September for the 18+ cohort vaccine registration, but the date had been brought forward by two weeks following a notable decline in the rate of daily vaccination in recent weeks.

The country has recorded the most infections and deaths on the African continent but has so far only fully vaccinated less than 8% of its 60 million population. To date, over ten million vaccines have been administered, with over seven million people partially vaccinated and over four million fully vaccinated. On Thursday 19 August, the country reported 13,672 new cases taking the total positive cases to 2,652,652. A further 317 COVID related deaths were reported as well. South Africa uses vaccines from J&J and Pfizer and has signed bilateral deals with the two U.S. pharma companies. The country is also receiving Pfizer vaccines through the COVAX initiative. Meanwhile, cabinet further approved keeping the country under the Risk-Adjusted Alert Level 3 based on advice received from the Ministerial Advisory Committee.