The next phase of the plan will soon be in progress, as more than 10% of healthcare workers have been vaccinated.
According to the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), essential workers will be next in line for the vaccine.
"As at 17th March 2021, a total of 157 286 health care workers have received their single-dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
“Next in line will be the essential workers, persons in congregate settings and persons over 60 years old and persons over 18 with comorbidities, then later the general population.”
In order to speed up the vaccination process, government has increased the number of vaccination sites from 17 to 47.
This includes adding sites to rural areas in order to improve access to the vaccine for rural healthcare workers.
"These sites located across all nine provinces range from Upington and Kimberly in the Northern Cape, Frere Hospital in the Eastern Cape, Madadeni Provincial Hospital in KZN, to Malamulele Hospital in Limpopo, and Ermelo Hospital in Mpumalanga, where teams of researchers and vaccinators have worked up to 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, to vaccinate HCWs."
SAMRC President and CEO, Prof Glenda Gray said no one will be left behind, as there have been concerns raised about people in rural areas not having equal access to the vaccine.
“There is also more stock arriving this weekend and the next and we have already applied to SAHPRA and discussed with the Department of Health, the intention to transition to a few more rural sites” said Prof Gray.
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority is working to certify the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as it is still unlicensed for use.
Despite the vaccine not being licensed yet, Prof Gray said this does not mean the vaccine is not safe and effective. There is data to prove the efficiency of the vaccine.
“We have data on safety and effectiveness of the JnJ vaccine” said Prof Gray.