About 100,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine may be destroyed by the end of this month (March). This is due to the dwindling interest in patronage on the part of citizens, South African health authorities said on Friday.
South Africa has recorded the most coronavirus infections and deaths on the African continent, however, immunizations have slowed and the country has ample vaccine stocks of about 25 million doses.
“There is a risk that just over 100,000 or so doses, which will expire by end of March may have to be discarded.”
It will be a sad day if significant volumes of doses can end up being discarded. We hope it will not reach that stage,” Health Minister Joe Phaahla told journalists during a virtual news conference.
He said the department was trying to upgrade vaccinations to save the vaccine doses from being destroyed.
South Africa has so far fully vaccinated around 43% of its 40 million adults.
South Africa’s vaccination campaign, using the Johnson &Johnson (J&J) and Pfizer vaccines, got off to a slow start due to difficulties securing early supplies but more recently, it has been dogged by hesitancy.
Last month the country changed its COVID-19 vaccination rules in an effort to encourage more people to get vaccinated.
According to the minister, special vaccine rollout initiatives have been launched to reach out to young people with covid 19 jabs (only 34% of this group have been reached with a single dose).
The minister will in the coming weeks make proposals to the National Coronavirus Command Council in the coming week regarding amendments to inbound travel requirements.