An aggressive vaccination drive needed to combat Covid-19 resurgence

Please find attached soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP.

The announcement by the Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, yesterday that a new Covid-19 variant (B.1.1.529) has been detected in South Africa, underscores the need for an aggressive vaccination campaign. Ultimately, the best antidote against the resurgence of Covid-19 cases is a fully vaccinated population.

The performance of provinces with regards to the vaccination rollout is averaging between 30% – 40% of fully vaccinated adults. This is simply not good enough. There is still room for government departments to reach South Africans where they are by making vaccines easily available and effectively communicating to people about the benefits of vaccination.

The Department of Health has performed poorly in terms of an effective communication strategy for vaccinations. This has often been attributed to the lack of funds for communications when we know that over R150 million of public money was stolen during the Digital Vibes corruption scandal. The people of South Africa cannot be made to pay for the ANC’s inability to keep their hands off public money meant for services.

An outreach strategy is needed that targets areas with large numbers of people like transport hubs, religious gatherings, shopping malls and areas of entertainment such as beaches and nightclubs.

In order for South Africa to escape the devastating effects of a fully blown forth wave, we need to make sure that enough people are inoculated and shielded from severe disease and hospitalisation. Until then, we will be stuck in a continuous loop of lockdowns and job killing restrictions.

There are millions of doses of vaccines in the country, as supply is not the issue. Therefore, much can and should still be done to rollout of the vaccine.

While there isn’t a full picture of the new variant, being vaccinated remains the most effective tool against an overwhelmed health system.