By Fiona Wakelin 



Addressing The Nation

In his letter to the nation during the first week of August, President Ramaphosa shared the heroism he encountered whilst visiting frontline workers.


Last week, when visiting two vaccination sites in Tembisa and Midrand, some of the heroes he met included the health workers administering the vaccines and those who are contributing to the safeguarding the health of the nation by coming forward to be vaccinated.


The good news is that the number of vaccinations administered in South Africa has now passed the 7.5 million mark with approximately three million people being fully vaccinated. – and an average of 220,000 people being vaccinated daily.  With the arrival of more doses in the coming weeks, this rate is set to increase significantly.


Already a significant number of doses are becoming available, with nearly 1.5 million single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines being handed to the Department of Health at the end of July.  And this weekend we received the first batch of the 5.66 million Pfizer vaccines donated from the USA.


“Our country is also making history. The first COVID-19 vaccines produced in Africa, for Africa, were released by Aspen Pharmacare from its flagship manufacturing plant in Gqeberha last week. These vaccines will be made available to the rest of the continent through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, which we set up during our tenure as African Union chair.


“Thanks to the efforts of all involved in the multisectoral vaccine acquisition response, we now have a comfortable supply of stocks to vaccinate our population” – President Ramaphosa.


The two vaccination sites our President visited are among an estimated 3 000 which have been set up in the country, currently providing vaccines to people above the age of 35, healthcare workers, and employees in participating workplaces. Several of these are open over weekends and there are a number of innovations like vaccination drive-throughs and mobile vaccination units.


One of the sites he visited is run by the private sector in partnership with Government and the other is run by the Government, yet both demonstrated similar levels of excellent service and professionalism. From the beginning of the outbreak the private sector, including medical schemes, has worked together with Government, mobilising resources and helping the country meet our national vaccination targets.


“At the Rabasotho Community Centre in Tembisa, I saw Government’s Batho Pele principles in action.


The process was efficient and streamlined: from the COVID-19 Vaccination Card people are issued with to help them keep track of their doses, to data-capturing stations, to observation stations with doctors on standby for those who have just received their jab. “Importantly, the site has an information area where those presenting for vaccination are given clear information in their own language on the different vaccine options available.


“We spoke with Mama Rosemary Mabaso, 67, who had come for her second dose. She said that the staff at the centre had treated her with the utmost care and courtesy and helped allay her initial fears of getting vaccinated,” – President Ramaphosa.


The most recent National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (CRAM) has determined that there is a growing receptivity among the public to having the vaccine, with only 1 in 10 South Africans believing that it is unsafe.


President Ramaphosa emphasises in his letter to the nation that vaccines are safe and that the national vaccination programme is the surest guarantee of a rapid recovery – from both a health and economic perspective. This requires following the guidance of the World Health Organisation and our Department of Health – and particularly to avoid spreading misinformation.


Hon. Ramaphosa pays tribute to the officials, healthcare workers and staff of the vaccination centres and the resilience of the South African people, who for more than 18 months have endured “the deadly pandemic, severe economic and social hardship, and recently, serious unrest wrought by those who want to see our country fail”.


“By going out and getting vaccinated, we aren’t just protecting ourselves. We are performing a patriotic duty to our country and our fellow citizens.


“In this great race to preserve human life, let us continue to work together in the interests of the health and welfare of our nation. In this way, we will ensure that recovery is certain, “– President Ramaphosa.


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