Prisoners at front of Covid-19 vaccine queue – SA govt priority list

Covid-19 vaccines have been described as the great weapon that will end the war against the pandemic. But, SA can only expect mass roll out from mid-2021, health ministry officials and advisors said at a webinar earlier this week.

People who live in overcrowded settings – including in prisons and informal settlements – are on the health ministry priority list along with essential workers in healthcare and municipalities, people over the age of 60 and individuals with diseases like HIV-Aids, tuberculosis and diabetes. The hospitality, education and tourism sectors have been flagged up for fast-tracking, as have workers in mines, security and the funeral, banking and retail industries.

At the back of the queue are many younger, healthier taxpayers who live in formal housing and provide the fuel for the economy. Pregnant women – because of the unknown risks – and children won’t be eligible for now.

The government cannot fund vaccines for all and will need to include the public sector in some way, the advisors noted. However, initiatives to facilitate private access to the jab, or jabs, when they become available are already well under way.

Discovery Health members, for example, will be relieved to hear that their scheme is working on facilitating access to vaccines for its members, its Covid-19 expert Dr Ronald Whelan told BizNews in this week’s episode of Inside Covid-19. He says the more people who are vaccinated, the better – because this increases the chances of widespread immunity, benefitting us all.

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