Vaccine rollout in SA extends to over-60s, using Pfizer doses

By Felix Njini

(Bloomberg) – South Africa said it will broaden its Covid-19 vaccine rollout to health-care workers and people over the age of 60 starting Monday.

The government will start a mass vaccination effort at 87 sites across the country using Pfizer doses administered to frontline health-care workers and the elderly, health minister Zweli Mkhize said in an online briefing Sunday. The rollout will start at a slower pace and will be stepped up over the coming days, Mkhize said.

South Africa expects more deliveries of the Pfizer vaccine tonight, raising the number to 975,780 doses. Deliveries from Pfizer are expected to rise to about 4.5 million doses by the end of June, with another 2 million doses coming from Johnson & Johnson, Mkhize said.

The government aims to inoculate more than 5 million senior citizens by the end of June “provided supply of vaccines flow as anticipated,” he said. South Africa expects a final decision on resumption of deliveries of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which were delayed for safety checks, this week.

“The numbers will start fairly slowly over the course of the week and then of course scale up toward the end of the month,” Mkhize said. “This is because we are starting off with a new vaccine that we have never used before.”

South Africa, the hardest-hit nation on the continent, has been slower to roll out its vaccines than many other African countries. It inoculated only 478,733 health-care workers as of May 16 through a Johnson & Johnson study.

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