Covid-19 vaccinations open for under 35s from Friday — but bad news about lockdown

South Africa will open vaccinations for persons between 18 and 34 years from Friday, 20 August 2021.

This was announced in a statement from Cabinet on its virtual meeting that took place on Wednesday.

In response to a report from the National Coronavirus Command Council, the Cabinet welcomed the vaccination roll-out plan to increase the uptake of vaccines — particularly in provinces that had shown a reduction in the uptake of vaccines.

“As part of increasing the vaccination roll-out programme, Cabinet approved the vaccination of persons aged between 18 years and 35 [sic] years from 20 August 2021,” it stated.

The announcement comes after health minister Joe Phaahla earlier this week told 702 that consultations with government leaders were underway to begin vaccinations of the age group weeks before the planned date of 1 September.

GCIS Director-General Phumla Williams posted on Twitter that walk-ins between 18 and 34 years of age will be able to register and get vaccinated at the sites.

The decision comes after South Africa saw a significant decline in daily vaccination rates in recent weeks.

While the country has a sufficient supply of vaccines, the numbers have dropped substantially from the record of 273,011 daily jabs on 21 July.

There has been a slight recovery in uptake this week, and nearly 10 million Covid-19 vaccines had been administered as of 18 August 2021.

However, as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two doses, only about 4.5 million people have been fully vaccinated — around 11.25% of the adult population.

A resident receives a Covid-19 vaccine inside a cubicle at a Discovery Ltd. mass vaccination site in the Midrand district of Johannesburg, South Africa, on Thursday, July 8, 2021. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Cabinet also said that there would be no adjustment to the risk-adjusted alert level 3 lockdown that was currently in place in the country.

“Cabinet further approved the keeping of the country under the Risk-Adjusted Alert Level 3 of the national lockdown, as advised by the Ministerial Advisory Committee,” it stated.

According to the latest update from the NICD, 14,728 new Covid-19 cases were confirmed on Wednesday, 18 August, representing a positivity rate of 22.1%.

The Department of Health reported that 384 Covid-19 related deaths were reported yesterday, bringing the total number fatalities to 78,377.

Minister Phaahla previously stated the strain on hospitals should ease once the average number of cases fell below 10,000 a day.

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Covid-19 vaccinations open for under 35s from Friday — but bad news about lockdown