President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize have received two of the country’s first ever Covid-19 vaccine shots from the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) consignment, which arrived in the country on Tuesday evening.
Ramaphosa and Mkhize were vaccinated alongside health workers at the Khayelitsha District Hospital, in the Western Cape.
The first South African health worker to receive the vaccine was nurse Zoliswa Gidi-Dyosi.
Ramaphosa has called on South Africans to take the vaccine to ensure the safety and health of all and assured that being vaccinated is a fairly straightforward process.
“I’ve just had my vaccination. At first I was a bit terrified of the long needle. But it happened so quickly, so easily. This day represents a real milestone for us as South Africans that finally the vaccines are here and they are being administered,” he said.
He thanked Mkhize for ensuring that the country had quickly secured doses of the J&J vaccine amid disappointment with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which showed little efficacy against the 501Y.V2 variant that is dominant in South Africa.
“I can tell you he spent sleepless nights, sending me text messages almost every hour. He’s been so focussed, he’s been working so hard, so thank you, Minister,” Ramaphosa said.
He said all provinces were ready for the vaccination process and had already begun administering the vaccine in a number of health centres.
He expressed confidence in the country’s health system, calling it robust, agile and effective.
He predicted that the vaccine roll-out would be flawless, and that it would be done effectively as more vaccines were brought into the country, to ultimately vaccinate up to 40-million South Africans.
He called the vaccination process a new era that would see the health of South African restored through the country’s health system, which he said was robust and gaining strength on an ongoing basis.
“And I want to say to all the doom-sayers, who have been preaching that there is going to be total mayhem and disaster, let’s all have hope and faith in our system, in our health workers and give them an opportunity to do what they do best. Because they know how these vaccination process are going to unfold,” Ramaphosa said.