Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Friday officially launched government’s second phase of vaccine registration.

The launch of the Covid-19 Electronic Vaccination Data System for those over 60 years of age is in preparation for the second phase which is expected to start from 17.

It will include essential workers, people in congregate settings and those over 18 years old with comorbidities.

“Those who are turning 60 in 2021 will be eligible. We are doing this to make it easy to implement the vaccination programme guided by our scientists and our ministerial advisory committee. We believe that it’s important that when we open we must prioritise those who are 60 years and above,” said Mkhize.

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“This is to ensure that if there is to be any infection, we can protect anyone from getting severe disease or hospitalisation. The prioritisation is just to make it easy to vaccinate and to order people to come in batches that are manageable.”

The final phase will target 22,5 million members of the population over the age of 18. Government’s target is to vaccinate 67% of the population by the end of 2021 to achieve herd immunity.

As of Thursday, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases is 1 562 931, with 1 372 new cases recorded since the last report.

The country has recorded 73 more deaths: 13 from Eastern Cape, 6 from Free State, 16 from Gauteng, 20 from KwaZulu-Natal, 8 from Limpopo, 4 from Mpumalanga, 1 from Northern Cape and 5 from Western Cape.

This brings the total number of deaths to 53 571.

“We convey our condolences to the loved ones of the departed and thank the healthcare workers who treated the deceased,” said Mkhize.

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Meanwhile, the country has suspended the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J), following reports that the United States paused their rollout due to blood clots in recipients.

“We have determined to voluntarily suspend our rollout until the causal relationship between the development of clots and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is sufficiently interrogated.

“Sahpra will collate information from Johnson & Johnson, the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] and other regulatory bodies to make a thorough assessment of the situation and advise us,” announced Mkhize on Tuesday.

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