Vaccination remains key defense against severe illness and death from COVID-19
Over the last few days of our vaccination drive we have seen a reduced uptake of COVID-19 vaccination. While we realise there are some people who have concerns about the vaccines, we would like to re-iterate the vaccines are safe and have been thoroughly tested. The vaccines are guaranteed to offer you great protection from getting severely ill and possibly dying from COVID-19.
Prioritising those at higher risk
From the onset, we prioritised those over the age of 60 and then those aged 50 to 59 as our data showed they are at higher risk of getting severely ill, being hospitalised and dying if they contracted COVID-19. We geared our vaccination programme to prioritise these citizens to be vaccinated first, so they are protected as we move out of the third wave and into an unavoidable fourth wave.
As at 22 September, 502 316 people in this age bracket (60+) heeded the call and registered to be vaccinated. To date, 96% of those registered have already received at least their first dose:
- 421,895 have already been fully vaccinated, and
- 64,009 are preparing to receive their second dose soon.
This means we have managed to reach 67.5% of the total population (719,673) in this age bracket and we thank them for taking up the mantle in ensuring they are protected when the fourth wave hits the country. Let’s not stop there but keep going!
Out of third wave and into fourth?
The SA Modelling Consortium experts predict the Western Cape has a 100% probability of exiting the third wave by 2 October. This is welcome news for many – but we now also must ensure the next most vulnerable group, those 50-59-years old, also get to similar vaccination coverage to those aged 60 and older. Vaccination remains voluntary, but it is our responsibility to ensure we save as many lives as possible before the end of the year. This is a key period now, in-between waves, so we can ensure these citizens are vaccinated before the anticipated fourth wave hits in December.
To date, 366,523 citizens (out of 682,516) aged 50-59 years have already registered to be vaccinated. This is more than 50% – but we need everyone to be vaccinated. Of those in this age bracket who have registered:
- 280,641 have already been fully vaccinated and have great protection, and
- 86,018 will also soon be fully protected when they get their second dose.
We don’t want to leave anyone behind. As the Department of Health in this province, we strongly encourage all citizens aged 50 years and older who have not yet been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible. You are at an increased risk to become severely ill during the fourth wave if you contract COVID-19.
A practical approach to ensure you are protected this Christmas
We all want to be able to have a safe Christmas – unlike 2020 – and want to be able to still enjoy time with our loved ones. We can do so if we are fully vaccinated but we need to ensure we take up the opportunity to receive both doses, keeping in mind there is a 42-day interval between first and second Pfizer doses. Here is how you can ensure you are fully protected when Christmas comes:
- Receive your first dose by latest 20 October (to allow for the time interval between doses)
- Receive your second dose latest two weeks before Christmas – between 1 and 11 December (it takes 2 weeks for your immunity to build up maximum protection after the second dose)
- Christmas – 25 December
Those in the other age groups are encouraged to continue taking up vaccination – the more citizens we can get fully protected, the better for each and everyone in the province and together we can reduce the loss of lives and livelihoods going forward. Younger age groups can also get severe disease and are also at risk of “long COVID” – long COVID is when sometimes symptoms persist months after contracting COVID and this affects our ability to live normally. Vaccination also reduces the chance of spreading the virus – you as a young person can contribute to protecting older or other persons more at risk of severe disease by getting vaccinated.
We acknowledge there are some more hurdles to overcome, but we are here, we have vaccines, we have vaccination sites, we are taking it into communities. All we ask of our citizens is to take up the opportunity to get vaccinated so we can ensure many more lives can be saved during the fourth wave.
Listen to the sound clip about how to reach maximum protection against Covid-19 by Christmas: