South Africa is expecting to receive at least 2.2 million more Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses at the weekend.
This was announced by Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla on Friday.
The doses were donated by the United States of America via the COVAX facility – an international group lobbying for the equal access to and procurement of vaccines.
Phaahla said the arrival of the vaccine doses would ensure that the country has a stable supply of the vaccine.
“We are grateful to the government of the USA for donating through the COVAX facility another 2.2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccines, which are arriving on Saturday, 28 August 2021, adding to the 5.6 million we received in July. This donation will reinforce our stock levels,” he said.
Meanwhile, Phaahla acknowledged that there have been calls by some for the COVID-19 vaccination to be made mandatory.
“A suggestion has been made by various influential people in society that we should consider a mandatory vaccination policy. This is a matter which we are very reluctant to venture into but it is a matter which we are discussing in various forums,” he said.
The Minister clarified that this is not a proposal government is expected to implement.
“We are discussing under what conditions this might be possible, but in my view… we don’t foresee a kind of regulation or some kind of national government regulation that says everybody must vaccinate.
“We really wouldn’t really want to go that route. But what is possible and what we consider is that where various service providers or areas of entertainment or where people obtain services or even workplaces… there is a possibility that a locally determined requirement can be [made].
“We believe that [is where] it could be done but we don’t foresee where it can be a regulation as part of the Disaster Management [Act] to say it’s compulsory for every adult,” Phaahla said.
The Minister said the possible need for extra shots of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – which are said to dramatically increase antibodies against COVID-19 – is also under discussion but the current focus remains on rolling out the current vaccines to as much of the population as possible.
“We have referred this to our vaccine Ministerial Advisory Committee to advise us but I must emphasise that our priority at this moment is to make sure that all South African adults, who are willing to get the vaccine, should get a dose as prescribed.
“At this stage, our priority is to make sure that we reach immunity population coverage,” he said.
Source: South African Government News Agency