PRETORIA – Health Minister Dr. Joe Phaahla says despite South Africa not having gone the route of issuing vaccination passports, the country has commenced with the development of a digital vaccination certificate to confirm that a person has been vaccinated.
“We are aware of the debate around vaccination passports, which is required by some countries for international travel. In our country, we haven’t gone that route. We only require a less than 72 hours old PCR COVID-19 test for people leaving or entering South Africa,” Phaahla said
The Minister briefed the media on Friday on progress regarding government’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19 and the national vaccination rollout programme.
Phaahla said the government has made sure that this certificate will be protected from fraud and will be uploaded on people’s smartphones and can be printed.
“This initiative is in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) initiated vaccination certificate. Through this, WHO is attempting to standardise vaccination proof all over the world so that it cannot be defrauded,” the Minister said.
He said this vaccination certificate should be available to those who are vaccinated in just over a week.
Phaahla clarified that the certificate will be made available for those recently vaccinated and those vaccinated several months ago, as long as their personal information is reflected in the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS).
He emphasised that government has no intention to require people in the future to produce these certificates to access public services.
“The certificates may be useful for access to entertainment, sports, and other events but definitely not essential and public services,” Phaahla said.
Vaccination rollout campaign
Phaahla said the vaccination campaign is maintaining steady momentum but still needs more speed in order to reach the target.
He said workplace vaccinations play a major role in the vaccination rollout campaign.
“Business for South Africa (B4SA) has been coordinating workplace vaccinations. This is an alliance of various volunteers working with government and social partners largely from the business sector to mobilise colleagues in the business side for resources, and also to build capacity in our struggle to combat COVID-19. I must say B4SA has been a very reliable partner working with other social partners,” Phaahla said.
He said when vaccination stations closed on Thursday, the country had administered just over 225 000 doses, including the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, which is far short of the daily target of 300 000 doses.
To date, the total number of doses administered as of Thursday was 14 367 151, with the total number of individuals vaccinated standing at 10.5 million.
“These are individuals with a minimum of one of either vaccine. This constitutes 26.4% of the total adult population,” Phaahla said.
He said out of the 10.5 million, just over seven million people were fully vaccinated, constituting 17.64% of the adult population.
Phaahla said they still need to reach another 18 million more adults in order to achieve 70% coverage of the adult population by December.
“The encouraging news is that once we get more doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we should be able to increase the number of those who get fully vaccinated because every single dose will constitute full vaccination,” Phaahla said.
Speaking on the gender proportion in terms of vaccination, the Minister said females are coming out in bigger numbers, with 57.7% of those vaccinated being female, compared to males at 42.3%.
“We still have a lot of work to do to get all the men to come out and receive their jabs,” Phaahla said.
The Minister announced that the government has activated the self-booking feature on the EVDS system, where individuals can select a date, time, and vaccination site of their choice.
Phaahla raised concern over unvaccinated South Africans, saying the vast majority of unvaccinated people end up in hospital.