UNICEF is supporting the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out through direct health and risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) support. Cold chain specialists placed in 5 provinces are providing training, a COVID-19 vaccination field guide has been developed, as well as training of health care workers on the Med Safety Application – an electronic tool for reporting adverse events following immunization. Communication and community engagement work also continues on promoting vaccines, adherence to COVID-19 prevention measures and monitoring misinformation.
UNICEF volunteers are supporting the vaccine registration drive by assisting the elderly to register for a vaccine.
The new adjusted alert level 4 lock down measures have impacted schooling with schools closing on 30 June, and set to reopen on 19 July (a week earlier than prescribed in the calendar). UNICEF’s distance and home-based learning tools remain a vital resource.
On 23 June, vaccinations opened for education sector staff including teachers, cleaners and food handlers. The sector identified 582,000 staff members to be vaccinated and of those, more than 400,000 have been vaccinated.
• On 27 June, South Africa entered an adjusted alert level 4 lock down in an effort to curb the spread of the third wave of COVID-19 and reduce the burden on healthcare facilities. The evidence indicates that the Delta variant is driving a severe third wave in South Africa and the country continues to have the highest COVID-19 burden in Africa.
• The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reports that as of 19 June, individuals aged ≤19 years made up 13.4% of SARS-CoV-2 tests, 10.2% of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases, 4.2% of all COVID-19-associated admissions and 0.7% of COVID-19 associated deaths. Among all deaths in individuals aged ≤19 years, 146 (38.4%) were among adolescents aged 15-19 years and 121 (31.8%) were aged under one year. Among 219 (57.6%) in-hospital deaths with available data on underlying conditions, 123 (56.2%) reported ≥1 underlying conditions. Data indicate that the fluctuation in numbers of cases in children do not appear to be directly related to the timing of opening or closing of schools, suggesting that schools are not the main drivers of infection in children.
• South Africa’s National Vaccine Rollout Strategy has made increased gains after taking delivery of an increased supply of Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines. The country received 1,3 million doses of Pfizer vaccines on the 27 June through the COVAX facility.
• The increased vaccine supply has facilitated the expansion of Phase 2 of the National Vaccine Rollout Strategy with, in addition to the education sector vaccination drive, members of the police force, the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) as well as those over 50 years of age now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.