EDITORIAL | As the rollout gains speed, who’s next in line for the jab?
Right now there are more vaccines than takers, but it won’t last long. The state must consider its next move carefully
Our government is in the unenviable position of playing vaccine god: who deserves to be next in line for the jab? Now that the obvious groups have been given priority, the answer to that question is becoming increasingly complicated. And with only so many vaccines available, our slow rollout plan will soon start catching up with us.
It made sense to start with the over-60s after health workers were vaccinated in the Sisonke trial. The elderly are the most at-risk group but didn’t line up in their droves to get the shot, with reports of empty vaccination centres emerging from across the country. Then came the teachers. It is essential for schooling to continue and no-one could argue against the reasoning of giving educators a first bite at an extra layer of protection. Just like placing health workers first in line, teachers getting priority was a no-brainer. This week the vaccination of police officers got under way, another sensible move that is hard to argue with.
But now the choice is becoming difficult. As the over-50s form long queues for their shots, more groups demanding to be given priority have come to the fore. Agricultural lobby groups have argued that farmers and farm workers be classified as essential contributors, since they are responsible for producing food. An outbreak in the sector would impact on food production and lead to food insecurity, Agri SA executive director Christo van Rheede has been quoted as saying. The SA National Editors Forum has lobbied for media workers to be vaccinated, as journalists are covering the pandemic from the front lines. It is hard to argue against either of these arguments; both carry weight...