Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said on Friday that Cabinet was pleased that millions of additional vaccines procured from several sources will arrive at varying intervals in the coming months, beginning in March.
Ntshavheni, who was appointed following the death of Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu last month, announced the outcome of the Cabinet Meeting held on Wednesday.
She highlighted that Cabinet appreciated the commencement of the national roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, with the first doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine being administered to healthcare workers in both the public and private sectors.
An additional 80 000 doses of the J&J Covid-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in the country on Saturday. The first consignment of 80 000 doses of the same vaccine arrived on 16 February.
As of Thursday, the total number of healthcare workers vaccinated under the Sisonke Protocol is 52 647.
Ntshavheni maintained that since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare workers have kept South Africans safe, and stated that their vaccination will help protect against infection and ultimately return the nation to normalcy.
Once all healthcare workers have been vaccinated as part of Phase 1 of the vaccination roll-out strategy, Phase 2 will roll out to essential workers and vulnerable groups, which includes people over the age of 60, people with comorbidities as well as those living in places such as nursing homes and hostels.
Local Vaccines Development
Cabinet also welcomed the efforts and progress made by the country’s scientists, researchers and medical experts towards the national initiative of developing the country’s own vaccines to deal with current and future pandemics.
Cabinet congratulated all South African scientists and researchers who managed to recreate the virus in the laboratory for purposes of enhancing research on the treatment of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Cabinet welcomed the 2021 State of the Nation Address delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa on February 11, expressing confidence towards implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) and government’s Programme of Action for the year setting out how it will address the socio-economic challenges confronting the country.
Ntshavheni said Cabinet also welcomed the 2021 National Budget delivered by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Wednesday as the best available option in balancing fiscal sustainability while funding critical government priorities such as the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines, supporting the vulnerable through a comprehensive social assistance programme, as well as through the ERRP to rebuild the economy, support job creation and attract investment.
Ntshavheni reminded citizens that the Covid-19 vaccination is free and voluntary and remains the best defence against the virus, coupled with the continued adherence to the health protocols of avoiding large gatherings, wearing a mask in public, sanitising hands and maintaining a social distance of at least 2.5 metres.