Govt plans to celebrate hitting a 50% vaccine rate – 16 months after setting a 67% target

Business Insider SA
(Photo by Gregor Fischer/picture alliance via Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregor Fischer/picture alliance via Getty Images)

  • The government is talking about making a big deal about South Africa hitting a 50% vaccination rate this week.
  • That is half of the adult population with at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine, rather than fully vaccinated people.
  • The department of health hopes those still hesitant will be more likely to get the shot when they realise a majority of people already have.
  • South Africa's herd immunity target had been 67% of the population. That was set in February 2021.
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Late this week, South Africa hit a Covid-19 vaccine milestone: by official numbers, more than half the adult population has now had at least a single shot of a coronavirus vaccine.

And that, the department of health argues, is cause for celebration.

"Knowing most adults have vaccinated can redefine the social norm in favour of vaccination," said a department team in its 50th weekly Vaccine Social Listening Report this week.

It recommended a "communications campaign" with everything from social media posts to community mobilisation, as well as a "Family Meeting" with President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighting the 50% mark.

"The task is to make this fact visible, and not just a statistic on a website," said the social listening group.

In the 24-hour period up to Friday evening, just over 56,500 people received their first dose of vaccine, official data shows. That puts the share of the adult population vaccinated at 50.02%. 

The proportion considered fully vaccinated is at 45.49% 

The at-least-one-dose vaccination rate is under 45% in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, and has yet to breach 50% in Gauteng and the North West.

For people aged between 18 and 34, the rate is at 37.05%.

In global terms, South Africa lags well behind much of the world outside of Africa, and behind Botswana.

In February 2021, 16 months ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa set a target of 67% population coverage, in order to reach herd immunity, shortly after vaccine doses arrived in South Africa.

By September 2021, the government target was expressed as 40 million people to be vaccinated before the end of December. Five months later, the total is at a little over 19.9 million.

Health districts have reported significant vaccine hesitancy and disinterest around the country, and complained about logistical troubles including a lack of transport and loudhailers

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