South African health workers welcome AU’s securing of COVID-19 vaccines

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Cropped hand wearing a nitrile glove holding a Covid-19 vaccine vial and a syringe

South Africa’s National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) on Thursday welcomed the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines by the African Union (AU) and called on countries to prioritize health workers.

A photo of a cropped hand wearing a nitrile glove holding a COVID-19 vaccine vial and a syringe. (Getty Images)

NEHAWU was responding to the announcement on Wednesday night by the AU Chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa that the continent has secured 270 million vaccine doses.

“The national union applauds this achievement and hopes that more vaccines will be secured in order to inoculate the 60 percent of the African population needed to reach herd immunity in the continent,” said NEHAWU General Secretary Zola Saphetha, “We appeal to countries that will receive the vaccines to prioritize workers in particular frontline workers as they battle with the virus in healthcare institutions.”

Saphetha called on governments to counter the misinformation about the vaccine so that people won’t resist vaccination.

“This must be complimented by an aggressive and robust educational awareness campaign to avert vaccine hesitancy which might undermine efforts to reach herd immunity,” he said.

He warned that people should not be complacent and let down the guard because the vaccine is on the way, adding that people should continue following the COVID-19 health protocols of maintaining social distancing, sanitizing and wearing masks.

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