The eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality has announced the closure of all community vaccination sites, including mobile beachfront vaccine pop-up sites, over the Christmas long weekend and on New Year’s Day.
With KwaZulu-Natal currently leading South Africa in the rate of new Covid-19 infections, the eThekwini Metro said it was closing down the vaccination centres due to the low numbers of people getting vaccinated, and the increased rate of infections among health care workers due to the current fourth wave.
The vaccination centres will be shut down on public holidays, and on the weekends of 25 to 27 December 2021 and 31 to 1 January 2022.
The metro has encouraged eThekwini residents to register to receive the Covid-19 vaccination, saying evidence showed that vaccinations remain the most effective defence in reducing severe illness and death.
Government has been pushing for more citizens to get jabbed against the virus due to the emergence of the Omicron variant, but just over 27 million people have received their jabs in South Africa, with many more yet to receive their second vaccine shots.
Early data from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) showed this week that the threat of severe illness and hospitalisation in people infected with the Omicron variant is much lower compared to those infected with the previous Delta variant.
The NICD said the reduced severity could be in part the result of high population immunity (herd immunity) due to previous infection from Covid-19 or the uptake of vaccines.
On Thursday, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) also approved the second dose of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine or booster shot.
Those who received the Pfizer vaccine, which is an mRNA vaccine, are also eligible to get a J&J booster shot, with the rollout of the shots in South Africa beginning on Friday.
Covid tests price cut
At the same time, South Africa’s three largest private pathology groups, Pathcare, Lancet Laboratories and Ampath, have agreed to the price reduction of Covid-19 Rapid Antigen tests to no more than R150 inclusive of VAT with immediate effect.
This was after the laboratories reached an agreement with the Competition Commission.
The price reduction would remain in effect for two years from the date of confirmation of the consent agreements as orders of the Competition Tribunal.
Earlier this month, the Competition Commission reached an agreement with Ampath, Lancet and Ampath on the reduction of Covid-19 PCR test prices.
In terms of the agreement, the labs agreed to reduce the price of the Covid PCR test from R850 to less than R500 per test inclusive of VAT.