The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is deeply concerned by the low and declining levels of vaccination the number of people who continue to lose their lives due to COVID-19. According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) there were 1,475 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 deaths in the last 24 hours
The Federation reiterates its call for workers and South Africans in general to vaccinate. Vaccines have been proven by the best international scientific and medical research in South Africa and internationally to be highly effective in drastically lowering infection, transmission, serious illness, hospitalisation, and death rates. Vaccinating two thirds of persons over the age of 50 years and the most at risk, has helped to save thousands of lives.
Vaccines on their own will not defeat Covid-19 but they are a key weapon in the fight against this deadly pandemic. Vaccines are complementary to the other key interventions like wearing masks, sanitising, screening, and social distancing.
Progress was made in rolling out the vaccines in 2020 with over 4000 vaccine sites set up across the country. Initial vaccination rates were positive with over 200 000 people vaccinating daily and large economic sectors and workplaces achieved impressive vaccination rates
However, the vaccination rates have plummeted as society has increasingly become complacent about what is still a deadly global pandemic that is not over. Daily vaccinations are now less than 50 000. Many sites have had to be closed and expiring vaccines destroyed. Booster rates for those who have vaccinated are pitiful. Overall vaccination rates have levelled off at about 44% of eligible persons.
Amongst those under 35 years its far lower and even less for teenagers. We should all guard against another wave of infections as we approach winter. We should not allow complacency to rob society of its most effective weapon in the fight against Covid-19.
Vaccinating is not only about protecting the individual recipient, but also about lowering transmission rates. It is about protecting the elderly and those with serious co-morbidities. It is about showing solidarity with other workers and assuring them that they can go to work in a safe place. The economy cannot afford and will not sustain another economic lockdown, nor should it when vaccines are freely available. The UIF already spent R63 billion, and it does not have any funds available to bail out the economy again.
Other countries have achieved vaccination rates of more than 90% are now safely able to move on with rebuilding their economies. South Africa cannot afford to lag when we are dealing with a deep economic recession and an unemployment rate of 46%.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794