Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane announced on Friday that those aged 50 and above will receive their Covid-19 vaccines from 15 July.
Zululand Observer reports, this followed the approval by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on vaccines, and registration will open from 1 July.
She encouraged those aged 60 and above to continue to sign up for their jabs. Kubayi-Ngubane, Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu and a panel of experts were briefing the media on efforts in the fight against Covid-19, including an update on the national vaccination roll-out programme.
The acting minister said preliminary study results show evidence of reduced moderate-to-severe illness and death in vaccinated healthcare workers.
The lead investigator in the Sisonke Study that saw close to 500 000 healthcare workers vaccinated, Professor Glenda Gray, announced last week that studies show a good immune response to the J&J single-dose Covid-19 vaccines.
‘There is clear evidence that vaccines work. So far, there are no deaths recorded related to the vaccine itself,’ said Kubayi-Ngubane.
While there were a few vaccine-induced thrombotic events, these were all detected and managed by expert clinicians.
‘Overall, this study provides confidence that the vaccine confers high levels of protection to those who have been inoculated with it.’
She also touched on the United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) plans to add a warning about rare heart inflammation in younger men to Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
‘These events are rare. I have been reassured by our experts that the vast majority, if not all cases, that have been reported were mild with short hospital stays, and that there have been no reports in South Africa,’ she said, adding that the department will continue to monitor this closely.
‘Pfizer is still considered safe and effective for all population groups above the age of 12 years.’
Meanwhile, she said she still believes that COVAX was a useful facility for low- and middle-income countries to acquire the much-needed vaccines.
‘For South Africa, we will continue to ensure we get the best out of COVAX, however, we have adopted a diversified approach to procuring vaccines so we do not put our eggs in one basket as we have been falsely accused.’