News / Own Your Life

3 minute read
6 Nov 2021
1:33 pm

Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy rife as fourth wave looms


'We are not yet out of trouble', Health Minister Phaahla said.

A Vaccine dose is drawn from a bottle during the Blue Bulls to Vaccinate For The Greater Good at Centurion Old Council Chambers. Photo: Gallo Images/Lefty Shivambu

Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, urged people to take the Covid-19 vaccine ahead of the imminent fourth wave that could hit the country soon.

We are not oblivious to the fact that we are not yet out of trouble.

Phaahla was speaking during the 2021 Rotary Health Family Day outreach programme at Gomora Informal Settlement, in Pretoria West.

Vaccines only hope

The health minister said, “the virus is still in our midst and every day we record a number of infections, it is only that it is at the low level of transmission at this stage”.

He described the life-saving vaccines as the only hope of long-term success in eradicating Covid-19.  

“While we’re on the elimination of HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis, now we’ve got a new pandemic, the Covid-19. At least in this regard unlike HIV, we do have various vaccines and we ask people to come forward to take these vaccines.”

‘Leave no one behind’

He dedicated the Rotary Health Family Day to ensuring that his department provides focused attention to people living with various disabilities and they receive comprehensive health services, including also vaccination against Covid-19.

“This is indeed making sure that no one is left behind,” he added.

He also paid tribute to President Cyril Ramaphosa who has been leading from the front and working around the clock to ensure that South Africans have access to the Covid-19 jabs.  

“Many other countries, especially low and middle-income countries, and especially in our continent are still struggling with access to vaccination.”

“We’re still speaking about less than 6% of people in the continent having had access to vaccination.”

Vaccine hesitancy

While South Africa has sufficient stock to inoculate citizens, Phaahla said government was still struggling to reach people.

However, the Minister believes that in the next few days, 40% of the country’s adult population would have received at least one dose of the jab if not fully vaccinated.

“Many of our colleagues in the SADC region are still struggling to access vaccines for their people. However, we are struggling to get the people to come to the vaccine. It’s embarrassing.”

Fourth wave fears

He said he hopes that government will be able to make the breakthrough and that more people will take the jab.

“We have all learned over the last 20 months that it is not over and that there is going to be another resurgence of the infection and therefore we must be ready and protect all our people.”

He said the fight against Covid-19 is in everyone’s hands.

“So, there is still a long way to go from the 70% of the adult population to be covered. Because to reach 70%, we need to reach at least 27 million South Africans.”

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Eliminating HIV and Aids

However, he believes that working with all their partners will help assist their drive to inoculation 40 million of the adult population by December. 

“We know is a tall order. But we believe working together; we can be able to reach that.”

In addition, the Minister recommitted that by the time the country reaches 2030, South Africa would have made inroads in eliminating HIV and AIDS.

“If not completely, but we’ll be very close to achieving this in the same way as we also want to eliminate tuberculosis,” he added.