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Vaccine Rollout in South Africa Exposes Historical and Current Inequality in the country

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The National  Covid-19 vaccine rollout in SA has run for just over three weeks, yet one of the country’s long-standing challenges is already hampering efforts to inoculate two-thirds of the population this year: inequality.

People over 60 years old are eligible for Covid-19 shots during the current phase of the plan, which began May 17 following the delayed arrival of doses from BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc. Yet registration for a shot can only be done online or by mobile phone, potentially excluding those without the right tech or someone to help them. Many older South African that are black and poor do not have access to the required technology and sometimes information regarding vaccines registration.

The process is also in English, just one of the country’s 11 official languages. While it’s a widely understood second language, only a little over 8% of households speak it at home, according to Statistics South Africa. The setup also favors those with private health insurance, or about 16% of the population, who tend to be higher earners.

These and many other factors that are preventing some of the most vulnerable South Africans a majority of whom depend on social grants from accessing Covid 19 vaccines in similar manner like the more privileged whites over 60. It is time for the government to ensure that the previously disadvantaged South Africans are not treated as equals to other race groups in the Covid 19 Vaccine rollout.

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