newsCity Press reports that SA’s Covid-19 vaccine programme is losing momentum. Dr Nicholas Crisp, who runs government’s vaccine programme, said they have not been able to reach the target of 250,000 jabs a day because too few people were showing up at vaccination stations.

“We do not have a shortage of vaccines, but rather a shortage of arms,” Health Minister Joe Phaahla said on Friday. Just over 54% of people older than 60 – those most at risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from a Covid-19 infection – have been vaccinated. The target of 250,000 vaccinations per day was first reached on 21 July, but not since then, with less than 200,000 vaccinations per day since 29 July. In the past week, not more than 180,000 vaccines were administered per day, with Friday recording only 140,000 vaccinations. Crisp said there were several reasons for the decline in vaccinations, including the distribution network that was taking longer to get doses into the system after there was a “low number of doses” in the pipeline two weeks ago. According to Crisp, this led to a “partial loss of the incentive to vaccinate, which led to partial apathy among the public”. But while a vaccine shortage may be the reason for the sluggish vaccination rate in rural provinces such as the Northern Cape (41%), North West (44%) and Mpumalanga (41%) of those who are older than 60, the same explanation does not apply to an urban province such as Gauteng (50%), which is not affected by the shortages. In addition, other rural provinces such as Limpopo (69%) and the Eastern Cape (59%) are doing much better with their vaccinations of people older than 60. Asked if vaccine hesitancy played a role in the sluggish vaccination rate, Crisp replied: “Without a doubt.”

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