South Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout programme losing steam, authorities concerned

While active cases are declining, fourth wave concerns growing as fewer South Africans get vaccinated.

According to the health department, fewer people are registering and subsequently receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations – raising concerns about vaccine hesitancy. “Every province has lost momentum, the slowing down and drop of vaccinations on a daily basis every day is something we need to pick up as a nation if we are going to protect ourselves and keep people out of hospital,” said Health Deputy Director-General Nicholas Crisp. The growing worries come a month after a survey by Afrobarometer found about 54% of South Africans said they were unlikely to get a COVID-19 vaccine. While active COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions have been declining overall, the slowing in the pace of vaccinations is a growing concern with fourth wave believed to be a certainty in the near future.

“There will be a fourth wave, we have no doubt, we don't know when; we don't know how severe and we don't know which variant. But we need to protect ourselves by vaccinating,” added Crisp. According to the department, with less than a tenth of the adult population fully vaccinated at present, an additional 28 million people need to be vaccinated for the country to reach its target of having 70% of the population inoculated by the end of the year. During the ministry’s briefing earlier today, the minister of health, Joe Phaahla, pointed out that 9.1 million vaccines have been administered and just under 4 million people have been fully vaccinated to date. As of the 1st of September, the programme will open up for everyone aged 18 and above.