President Cyril Ramaphosa says he is pleased with the start of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, which starts in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape, today.
"To demonstrate our confidence in this vaccine and help allay any fears that people may have, the Minister of Health and I will join the first health care workers to receive the vaccine in Khayelitsha," he said ahead of the programme.
President Ramaphosa and Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, will witness the first health care workers receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The vaccine, which has been approved by the South African Health Products Authority, arrived at the OR Tambo International Airport in Gauteng on Tuesday night.
The first batch of 80 000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being prepared for distribution across South Africa with immediate effect.
President Ramaphosa on Wednesday said he is pleased that the country is able to begin vaccination by mid-February, as announced.
"This is despite the fact that the AstraZeneca vaccine that we had procured for this purpose showed little efficacy against the 501Y.V2 variant, which is currently dominant in South Africa.
"I would like to congratulate the Vaccine Inter-Ministerial Committee, the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize and his team, and the Medical Research Council for responding so rapidly and effectively to this challenge," President Ramaphosa said.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been shown in extensive trials to be safe and efficacious, and will protect health care workers from illness and death from COVID-19.
"We have called on leaders in various sectors and parts of the country to lead by example and get inoculated publicly. We will therefore witness some Premiers, MECs and leaders from civil society, religious formations and traditional leadership being being vaccinated in all provinces.
"We have chosen vaccination and we call on all South Africans to choose vaccination and protect one another," the President said.