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By AFP


Desmond Tutu gets his vaccine jab

The 89-year-old anti-apartheid icon and his wife Leah emerged from Cape Town's Brooklyn Chest Hospital in wheelchairs after getting their shots.


Nobel Peace Prize laureate and retired archbishop Desmond Tutu was among South Africa’s first seniors to receive jabs on Monday as the country launched a massive immunisation drive for over-60s.

The 89-year-old anti-apartheid icon and his wife Leah emerged from Cape Town’s Brooklyn Chest Hospital in wheelchairs after getting their shots.

After much delay and on the cusp of a third wave of Covid-19 infections, South Africa finally rolled out the much anticipated campaign, which aims to vaccinate around five million people aged over 60 by the end of June.

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Health Minister Zweli Mkhize visited an elder care facility in the mining town of Krugersdorp, around 30 kilometres (18 miles) west of Johannesburg where he looked on as nurses administered jabs.

Despite being Africa’s worst virus-hit country, registering more than 1.6 million cases including 55,210 deaths, South Africa has vaccinated fewer than 480,000 people or just one percent of its population, mainly healthcare workers.

The drive started in February when South Africa became the first country in the world to administer inoculations by US pharma group Johnson & Johnson, but it has moved slowly.

The government, which has been widely criticised for the sluggish pace of the campaign, says it has ordered enough doses to vaccinate at least 45 million of the estimated 59 million population.

“Five million senior citizens are targeted to be completed by the end of June, provided that the supply of vaccines flow as anticipated,” Mkhize said.

He said the country expects to have received 4.5 million doses of Pfizer and two million J&J doses in the next six weeks, and that 16.5 million people should be vaccinated by October.

South Africa and India are leading a global campaign to waive intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines so that any country can produce them, as poor lag behind in the vaccination race.

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