CAPE TOWN: South Africa received the first batch of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Tuesday night at the OR Tambo International Airport.
The delivery had been moved to a secure facility in Gauteng before being distributed overnight to the various vaccine centres in all provinces.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize are amongst the first group that has been vaccinated with health workers on Wednesday at Khayelitsha District Hospital in the Western Cape.
‘‘To demonstrate our confidence in this vaccine and help allay any fears that people have, the minister of Health and I will join the first health care workers to receive the vaccine in Khayelitsha,’’ said Ramaphosa in the statement.
“Our country has been saved because of our health workers’ dedication,” Mkhize said.
According to the statement, the vaccine had been approved by South African Health Products Authority, (SAHPA)
Ramaphosa said, “the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been shown in extensive trials to be safe and efficacious and will protect our health care workers from illness and death from COVID-19.”
“It gave him great pleasure to announce that the first batch of 80,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being prepared for distribution across SA with immediate effect,” he said.
Meanwhile, the government has been consulting scientists about what to do with the 1 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses received two weeks ago.
‘‘The AstraZeneca doses we purchased have been offered to the AU platform, of which we are part, and the AU will distribute to those countries that have already expressed interest in acquiring the stock. Therefore, please be assured there will be no wasteful or fruitless expenditure,’’ Mkhize said via Twitter.
‘‘Government remains committed to saving lives and protecting livelihoods,’’ the statement read.
“All citizens are reminded that adhering to health protocols together with the vaccine remains our best defence against the virus,’’ government said in the statement.
“We have called on leaders in various sectors and parts of the country to lead by example and get inoculated publicly,” the statement further said.
“We will therefore witness some premiers, MECs and leaders from civil society, religious formations and traditional leadership being vaccinated in all provinces,” he said.
Additional reporting by Nsuku Rikhotso