South Africa has asked manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines to delay delivery until next year as the country has sufficient stock, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
Department of Health spokesperson Foster Mohale said the country has stocks to last it the next three months.
“Our priority is demand creation to encourage more people to vaccinate ahead of the festive period. We are accelerating our efforts to reach more people ahead of the anticipated 4th wave to minimize its impact,” said Mohale.
The government has been battling vaccine hesitancy and has been pulling out all the stops to boost the rate of administered doses. It launched weekend vaccines drives, pop-up vaccination centres, and partnered with community and traditional leaders to encourage more South Africans to get vaxxed.
Vaccine hesitancy fight continues
The latest official statistics show that 35 percent of South Africans are fully vaccinated. The government had set a target of vaccinating 70 percent of the adult population by year-end.
“We may not meet the 70% target by the look of things, but we will double our efforts to come closer to it,” he said.
Mohale emphasised that delaying delivery would not result in a shortage of vaccines later on and that there was enough stock to handle any potential uptick in demand.
There is more than enough stock
“We can vaccinate 30 percent (of South Africans needed to reach the 70 percent target) and another 20 percent. As long as people come forward, we will never run out of vaccines, based on the current stock levels l,” he told Health-e News.
He did not say when deliveries would take place but manufacturers would be notified when the need arises. South Africa is currently administering the J&J and the Pfizer vaccine to the population.
We won’t wait until the last minute, we monitor stock levels regularly”, he said.