Friday, 18 February 2022

Pretoria: With the youth being the least vaccinated population against COVID-19 in the country, Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, has encouraged young people to get vaccinated, as well as promote vaccination amongst their peers.

“We want to defeat COVID-19 for the future of the country and young people are the majority, therefore we need more of them to get vaccinated,” the Minister said on Friday.

He was addressing the launch of Youth Vaccination Programme at Tshwane TVET College as part of continued collaborative efforts between government and non-governmental organisations to increase vaccine uptake amongst young people.

Youth between the age of 18 to 34 years old comprise the largest targeted, but the least vaccinated population in the country, with only just over 5 million out of 17.7 million target population having received this life-saving treatment.

“The position of government remains that vaccination is a personal choice but at the same time, it’s a public health issue that’s why some institutions have made vaccines mandatory to protect the public. At a personal, you can make the decision but when it affects other people in your space it becomes a public health issue,” Phaahla said.

The Minister said if the country can get 90% of the population to be fully vaccinated the virus would mutate less.

Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Buti Manamela, called on the youth to educate themselves about COVID-19 from credible sources.

“If you can vaccinate and do not take up the opportunity to do so, you are putting everyone at risk. The most important thing is to educate yourself about what is fake news and what is not.

“Our [plea] is for you to encourage others to vaccinate and if we do not reach herd immunity, we are likely to continue with the fight for much longer. We need to get young people to encourage others to vaccinate through peer to peer conversations,” Manamela said.

The official launch of #KeReady” or “I am ready” campaign for young people took a format of an open and frank conversation instead of the traditional programme dominated speeches, between leaders, influencers and young people about the vaccine benefits and ways to address vaccine hesitancy.

The Minister and Manamela were joined by the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, Gauteng MEC for Health, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi, and a number of public and private leaders including both management and Student Representative Council Tshwane of South TVET College.