There was disbelief and outrage when news came out that South African authorities were only planning to give the COVID vaccine to South African citizens. This is despite the fact that the country is home to millions of political and economic refugees from all over the continent. The country is home to more than 3 million Zimbabweans who fled economic despondency in search of normalcy. The country is also a COVID hotspot in Southern Africa and has even produced a new lethal variant of the virus.

This makes the need for people to get vaccinated all the more urgent. The country is going to be taking delivery of a vaccine sometime this month and the hope is that they will achieve herd immunity by vaccinating the bulk of the population. But Health Minister Mhkize sparked controversy saying only those with ID would be vaccinated and implying that non-citizens would not get the jab. Most people questioned the logic behind this. It’s not like the virus would go about asking people if they were citizens or not before infecting them.

His remarks have now been dismissed by the South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.

We all want to be free of this disease. We all want to be safe, and for those we love to be safe.

We aim to make the vaccine available to all adults living in South Africa, regardless of their citizenship or residence status.

We will be putting in place measures to deal with the challenge of undocumented migrants so that, as with all other people, we can properly record and track their vaccination history.

It is in the best interests of all that as many of us receive the vaccine as possible.

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