SC vaccine
  • South Africa briefly had  a "request for vaccination for special circumstances" process, for those who need a Covid-19 vaccine before travelling.
  • But on Tuesday the acting health minister said the circular on which it had been based had been withdrawn.
  • Her spokesperson won't say what that means for travellers.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

* This article has been updated throughout.

Can you apply for special dispensation to receive a Covid-19 vaccine if you need to travel? As of Tuesday afternoon, that is no longer clear.

For part of Monday and Tuesday, South Africa had a process to apply for special dispensation to receive a vaccine, aimed in part at those too young to be due vaccine shots yet, but who need to travel.

The department of health published the details of a "request for vaccination for special circumstances" process on Monday.

But on Tuesday afternoon, acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said the circular that had created the process was now withdrawn, and that the decision to set up the process had not been cleared by an interministerial committee that decides who gets vaccines.

The circular was removed from the government's SACoronavirus website. But a form for use in applications was still available for download from the same site.

A terse formal withdrawal of the circular, "in its entirety", was subsequently issued, in the form of another circular. The number of questions received about it "indicate that the Circular is unclear about its intentions", said the new notice.

The deputy director general in the department of health who had issued both the original circular and the follow-up withdrawing it, Nicholas Crisp, did not immediately respond to questions. 

Kubayi's spokesperson, Hlengiwe Nhlabathi-Mokota, did reply to questions – but not directly. Asked if the system of applications is suspended, or cancelled, she said "[t]he circular is withdrawn." Asked what travellers in need of a vaccine should do, she said: "Withdrawal means it is not in action." She did not respond to a further request for clarification.

In the withdrawn circular, applicants were told to email vaccine.admin@health.gov.za to receive a voucher number for the Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS), which would enable a walk-in vaccination.

The special-circumstances system was expected to be mostly used for those who need to travel, and the health department said the reasons for travel that would be considered were for:

  • business or work-related travel
  • study at an accredited educational institution
  • sportspeople who need to travel outside of South Africa to represent the country, and
  • accessing medical care.

* This article was updated after publication to reflect what acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said was the withdrawal of the circular that made provision for travel-required vaccination application process.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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