Special Reports:

COVID-19 vaccines

< Back to special reports

The first batch of COVID vaccines touched down in South Africa in February 2021. Health workers were the first to get a jab under the Sisonke study. But even before the country had bought any jabs, our reporters were writing about the logistics and the politics of the project. If you want to know how well the vaccines work, how the different jabs compare or what it takes to create a vaccine from research, to regulation, to rollout, you’re at the right place.

HomeSpecial ReportsCOVID-19 vaccinesWhat does South Africa's COVID vaccine roll-out plan say?

What does South Africa’s COVID vaccine roll-out plan say?

With the first COVID jabs beginning to roll out, South Africa has announced its plan to reach two-thirds of the population once doses reach its shores. The country is hoping to secure direct deals with manufacturers by February. Shots via the procurement mechanism, COVAX, are expected by the beginning of the second quarter of 2021. Here’s a look at who will get it and how.

Resource details:

Publication title: Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout Strategy

Author(s): Department of Health

Publication date: 3 January 2021

What the strategy is about:

This past year has seen hundreds of vaccines in development worldwide in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic. In December of last year, a handful of these jabs began to release results showing their efficacy and safety in phase 3 trials, which are usually considered the final stage in a series of tests before companies can begin seeking regulatory approval. During this time, South Africa’s ministerial advisory committee on COVID-19 vaccines developed a strategy to ensure equitable access to vaccines. This strategy outlines the country’s plans for the rollout of a COVID-19 jab, including how the shot can be purchased and who the priority groups for vaccination are.

Key take-aways from the plan:

Why vaccines matter

How South Africa’s rollout will work

How South Africa will get vaccines to people

  1. Work-based programmes: Best for hospital-based staff, especially at district level private and public hospitals.
  2. Outreach-based programmes using mobile teams moving between facilities: Best for primary healthcare providers, community health workers, and private medical centres.
  3. Vaccination centres, particularly in remote areas: Ideal for independent healthcare workers.
  • During phases two and three the same programmes will be used, with the addition of vaccinations at public primary healthcare facilities.

READ MORE: Who should get the COVID-19 vaccine first in South Africa?

How South Africa will choose a COVID-19 vaccine

  • The country will be guided by the following criteria:
  1. Does a supplier have stock available?
  2. Is the vaccine safe, effective and of good quality?
  3. How easy is it to use and how many doses are required?
  4. Can it be easily stored and distributed?
  5. Does the supplier have capacity to produce the volumes needed for South Africa’s rollout?
  6. How much does it cost?

How South Africa will ensure that a vaccine is safe and effective

READ MORE: What do the latest COVID vaccine results mean?

How far along is South Africa in the procurement process?

WATCH: COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Strategy for South Africa

Aisha Abdool Karim was a senior health reporter at Bhekisisa from 2020 to 2022.