SA is facing a national emergency on top of the Covid-19 state of disaster as the pace of vaccinations slumps, said Francois Venter, professor of medicine at Wits University Venter blamed the fact that many vaccination sites around the country are deserted on “total communication failure by the government”. (Sunday Times (15 August 2021). According to Health Department statistics only 14% of women and 10% of men in the 50-59 age group, have been vaccinated. About 25%of women over the age of 60 have been vaccinated, but only 16%of men.

However, the Department of Health’s Deputy Director-General, Nicholas Crisp, said the department “does not have a budget at the moment”. He declined to elaborate, saying he did not want to be drawn into a discussion on the R150-m paid to Digital Vibes for Covid-19 communications.

Crisp said the department is using the services of GCIS [Government Communication and Information System] and internal resources, as well as being supported by the private sector and the Solidarity Fund.

Stavros Nicolaou of Business for South Africa, which is working with the government on the vaccination rollout, said it is time to take vaccines to the people rather than expecting them to come forward. He said he is talking about community interventions, community radio stations, mobile clinics and more.

Professor Jeremy Seekings, director of the centre for social science research at the University of Cape Town, said the department needs to “change gear in terms of both making vaccinations accessible and its public education efforts”.

The department has set a target of inoculating 70% of the adult population, about 28-m people, by the end of the year.

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