Government plans to celebrate reaching 50% vaccination rate – 16 months after setting target of 67%

(Photo by Gregor Fischer/picture alliance via Getty Images)

  • The government is talking about making a big fuss for South Africa to reach 50% vaccination coverage this week.
  • This represents half of the adult population with at least one injection of the Covid-19 vaccine, rather than fully vaccinated people.
  • The Department of Health hopes that those who are still hesitant will be more likely to get vaccinated when they realize that a majority of people have already done so.
  • South Africa’s herd immunity target was 67% of the population. This was fixed in February 2021.
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At the end of the week, South Africa reached a major milestone on the Covid-19 vaccine: according to official figures, more than half of the adult population has now received at least a single injection of a vaccine against the coronavirus.

And that, according to the Department of Health, is cause for celebration.

“Knowing that most adults have been vaccinated can redefine the social norm in favor of vaccination,” a department team said this week in its 50th Weekly Report on Social Listening to Vaccines.

He recommended a “communications campaign” with everything from social media posts to community mobilization, as well as a “family reunion” with President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighting the 50% mark.

“The task is to make this fact visible, not just a statistic on a website,” the social listening group said.

In the 24-hour period to Friday evening, just over 56,500 people received their first dose of the vaccine, according to official data. This brings the share of the adult population vaccinated to 50.02%.

The proportion considered fully vaccinated is 45.49%

Vaccination uptake with at least one dose is below 45% in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, and has yet to exceed 50% in Gauteng and the North West.

For people aged 18 to 34, the rate is 37.05%.

Globally, South Africa lags far behind much of the world outside of Africa and behind Botswana.

In February 2021, 16 months ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa set a population coverage target of 67%, in order to achieve herd immunity, soon after vaccine doses arrived in South Africa.

In September 2021, the government’s target was expressed as 40 million people to be vaccinated by the end of December. Five months later, the total is just over 19.9 million.

Health districts reported significant vaccine hesitancy and disinterest across the country, and complained of logistical issues, including a lack of transportation and loudspeakers.

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