Vaccination campaign continues despite unrest in KZN, Gauteng

Media release from Business for South Africa (B4SA)

B4SA: Vaccination campaign continues despite unrest in KZN, Gauteng

  • Over 1 million registrations from +35 age group in first 24 hours
  • Business working closely with Government to address medical supply issues in affected areas

Johannesburg, 16 July 2021 – Business for South Africa (B4SA) today welcomes the announcement by the Acting Minister of Health, Mmamoloko Kubayi, that more than a million people in the 35-49 year old age group had registered for vaccination on the Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS) in the first 24 hours of being eligible to do so.

B4SA calls on those in the 35-49 cohort to encourage and assist those over 50 to register and receive their vaccinations, and requests that all vaccination sites prioritise those aged 50 and above.

The business formation says that despite the violence in some parts of the country, the national vaccination campaign is continuing in all provinces and areas unaffected by the unrest.

“While unrest is impacting the vaccination programme in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, we are encouraged to see that Gauteng is still recording the highest vaccination rates in the country,” says Martin Kingston, chair of the Business For South Africa (B4SA) steering committee.

“We are, however, extremely concerned about the low rates of vaccination in KwaZulu-Natal, and the impact that the unrest continues to have on the overall health care system in that province.

“This includes the impact on testing capability, the availability of critical medical services, medication, oxygen and general supplies, and on health care workers’ ability to travel to their place of work. B4SA is working closely with the government to ensure that challenges are addressed and resolved as quickly as possible.”

Kingston is also concerned about the looting of pharmacies, many of which are small independent businesses, and medical centres, and the theft of medicines and a small amount of vaccines. He cautions that it is crucial that members of the public only buy medication from registered, accredited pharmacies or medical facilities, and only receive vaccines from registered vaccination sites.  Stolen vaccines will not have been stored under the correct conditions, and medications that are not properly dispensed could cause serious harm.

Some of B4SA’s efforts, in partnership with Government, communities and the private sector include:

  • The protection of critical oxygen supplies by ensuring they escorted safely
  • Arranging protection for medical and pharmaceutical warehouses
  • Coordination and transportation of urgent and critical medical supplies to KZN
  • Close daily monitoring of the status of vaccination sites in KZN
  • Supporting the Independent Pharmacy Emergency Fund set up by the ICPA to assist the independently owned pharmacies that have been looted in the unrest (over 54 pharmacies impacted thus far)
  • Assisting pharmacies to retrieve medical records where they have been lost or stolen.

Business and government are also working closely with labour and civil society to combat lawlessness by identifying at-risk areas and critical infrastructure and ensuring that they are both protected, he says.

“While the national daily vaccination numbers dropped to between 137,000 and 146,000 earlier this week, the vaccination programme was back up to 172,466 yesterday.  Keeping the vaccination programme on track is vital.  Government is doing well to re-route vaccines from affected areas to those unaffected by the unrest, so this, combined with an increased capacity and demand, means we are able to use all the vaccination stock in the system currently.”

Kingston says B4SA’s modelling shows that if calm is restored to the areas affected by unrest, there is capacity to catch up the rate of national vaccinations, which was set to be vaccinating in excess of 200,000 people a day by this time.

“The vaccination programme is for all our people – insured and uninsured – and is a great example of a true public-private partnership. The rollout so far is testament to what we can achieve when we all work together.  And to maintain that momentum, we must also work together to quell the unrest and rebuild our country,” says Kingston.

Kingston says that despite the challenges, the country should keep its eye firmly on the prize – ramping up the rate of vaccinations to the 300,000 per day target set by our President.


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