As part of efforts to ramp-up COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of the festive season, President Cyril Ramaphosa has written to leaders in government, labour, faith-based organisations, traditional leaders, business and civil society partners to support the upcoming Vooma Vaccination Weekend.
Set to take place at the weekend, 12-14 November, the leaders have been requested to participate in local events, community outreaches and to lend their support in promoting awareness of vaccination sites in every district.
In a statement, the Department of Health said the activations were aimed at galvanising massive country-wide support for the vaccination programme against COVID-19. It comes at a time when the rate of new COVID-19 infections are low in South Africa, but where the fourth wave is anticipated early in the New Year.
"While the country is unlikely to avert the 4th wave, a higher vaccination rate over the next month could substantially reduce its impact, especially if coverage among people aged 50 and older could be accelerated," said the department's spokesperson Foster Mohale. To date, over 80% of confirmed COVID-19 deaths have been in this age group.
In the statement on Tuesday, Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, said three out of five people aged 50 and older have now had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
"If we can get close to five out of five people in this age group vaccinated by the end of the year, we will crush the power of the fourth wave by substantially reducing the number of hospital admissions and deaths," said the Minister.
The first Vooma Vaccination Weekend in October led to an unprecedented level of engagement and active mobilisation across many districts in South Africa. It achieved 75% of its target of 500 000 vaccinations over the three-day period. The department hopes to achieve 100% of that target in the next Vooma Weekend.
"This target will only be achieved if there can be even greater mobilisation across all sectors of society, hence the president has called upon all leaders across various sectors of society to join hands with government," it said.
Vaccination sites would be open across the country during the Vooma weekend.
The goal is to ensure at least 95% capacity on the Saturday. While fewer sites will open on Sunday, the focus will be on outreach to large faith-congregations willing to be vaccinated on that day.
Vaccination sites will be open across the country during Vooma weekend, and the goal is to ensure at least 95% capacity on the Saturday. While fewer sites will open on Sunday, the focus will be on outreach to large faith-congregations willing to be vaccinated on that day.
In the first Vooma Vaccination Weekend, over 1,000 frontline health workers and health service managers received certificates of appreciation signed by President Ramaphosa, and district management teams will nominate sub-district vaccination and outreach teams for recognition in the coming Vooma Weekend.
Dr Phaahla expressed appreciation to health professionals who had worked tirelessly to vaccinate South Africans.
"We would also like to thank almost 16 million South Africans who have vaccinated to date. Your efforts will ensure that we break the power of this deadly pandemic and speed up the process of saving lives and livelihoods," he said.
The department requested the media to support this effort by publicising the Vooma Vaccination Weekend activities, and giving recognition to the extraordinary efforts of all health workers involved in the Covid-19 response, whether in health care facilities or vaccination sites.
The lists of open sites (by province) will be available on www.sacoronavirus.co.za from Tuesday, 9 November 2021.