We need a COVID-19 vaccine plan now!

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We as health professionals note the rapid rise in infections and hospitalisations in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa, with huge pressure on hospital beds, health facilities, health workers and institutions of care. We are also very concerned at the emergence of new viral strains that may be more infectious and transmissible. 

There are several effective COVID-19 vaccines being produced and many countries have begun or are about to begin vaccinating, including some low- and middle-income ones. South Africa has a strong primary health care system. The success of the antiretroviral program shows what the health system is capable of. We are well-placed to implement vaccination.

We appeal to the Department of Health (DOH) to engage in bilateral discussions with vaccine manufacturers and to make public an effective plan to procure and distribute vaccines. We ask the DOH to start by vaccinating frontline health workers, followed by those most at risk including elderly people and people with comorbidities.  We call on the DOH to act urgently, transparently and decisively now to obtain vaccines and to implement vaccination, so as to reduce death and illness, and bring the pandemic under control.