By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Johannesburg: South Africa has introduced drive-through vaccination centers in a bid to ramp up coronavirus inoculations.
At one center in Kempton Park east of Johannesburg, people only have to book a slot online or over the phone and then drive in for their jab.
The country recently expanded the campaign to cover people over the age of 60 after initially vaccinating health workers.
People have welcomed the government’s move saying it’s safer and reducing exposure to the disease while waiting to be vaccinated.
“When we’re packed sitting in line at the clinic to receive the vaccine you get discouraged by those you are seated with, that’s when fear creeps in and you have second thoughts about receiving the vaccine,” said Nombuyiselo Vilakazi, a resident of Kempton Park after getting the vaccine.
“Now that you are seated in your car I feel that the drive-through is better because there’s no one to discourage you,” she said.
This comes as the country is on the cusp of the third wave of Covid-19 infections and there have been many delays in administrating vaccines.
South Africa is the continent’s worst-hit country by Covid-19 and has registered more than 1.6 million cases and more than 55,000 deaths but less than 480,000 people or just one percent of its population mainly health workers have been vaccinated. and recently kicked off vaccination for older people.
Among the first seniors to receive their vaccinations under the mainstream campaign was 89-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner and retired archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The vaccine drive started in February when South Africa became the first country in the world to administer inoculations by US pharma group Johnson & Johnson, but it has moved slowly.
The government has been widely criticized for the sluggish pace of the campaign. But it says it has ordered enough doses to vaccinate at least 45 million of the estimated 59 million population.
The government said it expects to have received 4.5 million doses of Pfizer and two million J&J doses in the next six weeks.
South Africa and India are leading a global campaign to waive intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines so that any country can produce vaccines with poor countries so far lagging behind in the vaccination rate.
South Africa earlier this year purchased AstraZeneca vaccines and then sold them to other African countries over fears that they would be less effective and it started inoculating healthcare workers with the J&J jabs it had to pause for two weeks in mid-April to vet risks over blood clots that had been reported in the US.