Photo: Oli SCARFF / AFP
Photo: Oli SCARFF / AFP
With the suggestion that South Africa is keen on issuing “vaccine passports” to facilitate right of access to a host of services and activities, Health Minister Joe Phaahla has issued comments in the hope of cooling outcry, saying that no certificates proving an individual’s vaccine status will restrict their access.
Phaahla insisted on Friday that the issuing of vaccine certificates is simply a mechanism for government to continue to work towards opening up the economy.
Speaking during a briefing on Friday 17 September, Phaahla said that the planned COVID-19 vaccine certificates will not be used to deny unvaccinated citizens access to public services.
“I want to emphasise that this certificate will not prevent people from accessing essential services, especially public services. You will not be required to show a certificate to get to the clinic. I have heard… [claims] that we want to deny people services,” he said.
“That is not going to happen. What this is meant for, is to say that you can open up more economic and recreational activities,” the Minister said on Friday at his department’s weekly briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s vaccination rollout programme.”
Phaahla said that an implementation plan for the vaccination certificates will be presented to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) within the next 10 days, adding that the certificate will be accessible through a smartphone, but that “those who do not own a smartphone will be able to receive a printed version of the certificate at their vaccination site”.
Phaahla reported that at least 220 450 COVID-19 vaccines were administered on Thursday, with the total number of vaccines administered reaching 15.6 million since the rollout began.
At least 7.7 million people living in the country are now fully vaccinated, and said that although the total vaccinations account for only 28% of the country’s adult population, Phaahla still believes that reaching 70% by the festive season is a possibility.
“We still have a long way to go… Slowly but surely we’re getting there. We still need 16 to 17 million more people to come forward [and] if that happens, we will have a very good Christmas.
“If we ramp up vaccination, we are certain that we can reclaim the kind of life we are all missing. We can get more social activities and even more economic activity including sports, arts and culture events,” he said.