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President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday night the Covid-19 vaccines were the most potent weapon to fight the pandemic.
Speaking during the “family meeting”, Ramaphosa said if many people were not vaccinated they remain vulnerable to infection and the chance of new and more dangerous variants emerging becomes greater.
“That is why vaccines are currently the most potent weapon we have to fight this pandemic,” he said.
He said the sooner more people were vaccinated, the sooner sports venues would be opened up to spectators.
This also applied to welcoming tourists to the country.
“If we are all vaccinated, the sooner we can meet with friends and family, the sooner we can return to offices and other places of work,” Ramaphosa said.
“When we are vaccinated, we will be able to return our economy to full operation and create the jobs that our country needs.”
Ramaphosa said the country would be able to restore all other critical health interventions and relieve the strain on health workers once more people were vaccinated.
“It is up to each and every one of us to convince our family, friends and co-workers that vaccination is safe and that it could save their lives,” the president said.
Ramaphosa said over a quarter of all adult South Africans have received at least one vaccine dose and more than seven million people were fully vaccinated.
In the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and the Western Cape, more than one-in-five adults were fully vaccinated.
The total number of vaccine doses administered in the country stood at 14.6 million.
“We are now administering a million doses every four to five days.”
Ramaphosa also said the government has secured enough vaccines to vaccinate the entire adult population, and the supply of vaccines was no longer a constraint.
“We are increasing the pace of vaccination and ensuring that we reach those that are most vulnerable to serious illness,” he said.
Ramaphosa said while everyone aged 18 years and older was eligible to be vaccinated, efforts and resources were concentrated to those over 60 years of age and those with co-morbidities.
“To date, over 57 percent of persons over 60 years of age have been vaccinated. This is a great achievement, but we need to reach them all.”
He also said they were finding that more women than men were coming forward to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
“Although the numbers are improving, men are still slow in coming forward to be vaccinated. We are spreading the message in all languages to ensure that people understand that these vaccines are safe, effective and free,” he said.
Ramaphosa said there was now overwhelming evidence from hundreds of countries that vaccines were safe and provide strong protection.
The president also said there were more than 3 000 public and private vaccination sites across the country, and most private sites will vaccinate any member of the public for free whether you have health insurance or not.
“I want to stress that the vaccination programme is open to all people in South Africa, whether or not they are South African citizens,” said Ramaphosa.
“It is important to bear in mind that this is a new virus that the world has never encountered before,” he said.
“Although nobody can predict how the virus will mutate further, the scientific community has developed innovative ways of tracking the emergence of new variants.”