Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that the second phase of the vaccination rollout in the country will begin on May 17.
This, he told Gauteng on Thursday, was due to the millions of doses of the vaccine expected to land in South Africa in the coming weeks.
He said the country got a total of 51 million hits in the deals that were signed with various drug makers, targeting 42 million people.
According to Mkhize, 31 million will come from Johnson & Johnson (J&J), while 20 million will come from Pfizer.
In addition, the country is expecting around 1.2 million vaccines from Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, Covax.
“This means that we can now move forward with confidence as we finalize our plans for our mass deployment campaign.”
The minister told reporters that May 17 marked the end of the phase one vaccination program for healthcare professionals and the start of the second round.
“We said the second phase should take us six months and therefore we still stick with it,” he said, adding that it would end in October.
Mkhize said the government is still working hard to get more hits to ensure those who may be missing or undocumented are also immune to achieve collective immunity.
Meanwhile, he said, the last 200,000 doses of J&J for the Sisonke protocol are expected this weekend.
Sisonke enabled the government to immediately make the Covid-19 vaccine available to healthcare professionals through a research program.
Mkhize reaffirmed that protecting health workers from Covid-19 is paramount and pledged that the government will continue to put their lives first.
“I want to tell our healthcare workers that we appreciate the work you have done and we appreciate your patience as we wait until all vaccines are available.”
He assured all frontline workers that they will be vaccinated before the mass deployment and believes the government will achieve its goal as more blows are expected to arrive in the country.
Johnson & johnson
The minister also announced that J&J has confirmed that South Africa will receive more than 1.9 million doses, produced locally, this month.
“The advantage is that it shortened the shipment from the factory and the delivery to the vaccination center,” he said.
He added that 900,000 doses will be delivered in May, while another batch of 900,000 will follow in June.
He said South Africa had distributed the AstraZeneca vaccine to various African countries.
In February, the country suspended the rollout of the 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca purchased after studies showed it was less effective against the mutated 501Y.V2, first discovered in the country.
In the meantime, he said the Treasury had confirmed that the Serum Institute of India had fully reimbursed South Africa for the remaining 500,000 doses of vaccine that had not yet been delivered.
“The money is already in our bank account… that closes the AstraZeneca vaccine case and we close it without incurring unnecessary expenses,” he said.
Read: The richest countries in the world get vaccinated 25 times faster