Pretoria - The Tshwane District, which has a population of about 3 million, has reached a milestone of fully vaccinating 1 million people against Covid-19.
Primary health care manager and vaccine co-ordinator Dr Mpho Moshime-Shabangu said they were extremely happy and proud about the milestone.
Moshime-Shabangu visited the Eersterust Clinic on Tuesday, the leading facility in the district with a high rate of vaccine distribution.
She described the increase in the number of people getting vaccinated as a sign that the district was heading the right way.
“We could not have done this without our partners. Academic institutions, faith-based organisations, public and private companies/workplaces and private health-care institutions have supported us throughout."
Katlego Ngobeni, who went to get vaccinated at the clinic, said she was relieved that she finally got her jab.
“I’ve been wanting to get vaccinated, but I was scared. People were saying a lot of things and it was so confusing. However, I finally decided to get vaccinated.
“At the end of the day it is about me and my well-being. I certainly do not think that the government would administer vaccines with the aim to hurt us in any way or kill us,” Ngobeni said.
Meanwhile, Covid-19 active cases have been declining in Tshwane, mayor Randall Williams said.
He said it was always encouraging to see the weekly trend of declining numbers of Covid-19 cases, but urged residents to remain vigilant and continue to adhere to the safety protocols.
Moshime-Shabangu said the decline could be attributed to both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical efforts, including interventions by the Department of Health as well people complying with the regulations.
"Even though vaccination does not protect you from getting infected it helps one not get severe symptoms or hospitalisation. Compared to the first, second and third waves, the fourth wave was not as severe because of the vaccines."
At the same time, experts have said that a fifth wave of infections will definitely hit the country.
However, Health Department spokesperson Foster Mohale said it was too early to predict.
“New variants are possible as long as we have the pandemic, because the virus mutates,” he said.
Deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation at the North West University and member of the ministerial advisory committee on vaccines, Professor Jeffrey Mphahlele, said the country was likely to experience the fifth wave in winter this year.
He added that while it was difficult to predict the severity of the next wave, it would not be as severe as the first three waves.
“The narrative and the ambition for 2022 should be to break the vicious cycle we find ourselves in.
“We have to learn to live with the coronavirus, regardless of the mutation. The virus is a moving target.
“We cannot have a situation where every time there’s a new variant the whole world goes into a panic by closing borders. Some countries are already in their fifth waves,” Mphahlele said.
Wits vaccinology Professor Shabir Madhi also said more variants were likely to head to South Africa.
“Further variants are always a likelihood, however, Omicron in South Africa is hopefully a prelude to what to expect moving ahead.
“The death rate of the Omicron variant is only 13% compared to the Delta wave,” Madhi said.