COVID-19 jabs critical to accelerating economic activity

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Vaccinations are essential in the road to making sure businesses survive the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring more job opportunities arise in the country.

This is according to Business for South Africa (B4SA) steering committee chairperson Martin Kingston.

He was speaking ahead of the Vooma Vaccination Weekend vaccination drive which will kick off on Friday across the country.

“The only way we can return the economy to full activity is if we can have as many people as possible who can participate without restrictions in the economy. And we know that even though it’s not a silver bullet, the most effective way of achieving that is to increase dramatically the level of vaccinations.

“Therefore the Vooma weekend is a critical launch pad for renewed activity on the part of all social partners…to encourage people within their sphere of influence to be vaccinated so that we can encourage full economic activity,” Kingston said.

B4SA says that at least 1000 private vaccination sites will be open on Friday with a further 550 sites expected to be open on Saturday in support of the Vooma vaccination drive which is targeting at least half a million jabs in arms over the two days.

“We urge South Africans to take advantage of the additional sites that will be open…to turn up in numbers. If you have already been vaccinated, then bring your family and friends to get the jab. It will take an extraordinary effort from our already overstretched healthcare workers to keep the sites open.

“We owe it to them to do our part – which is to roll up our sleeves and get our jabs so we can be safe and all look forward to a much more normal way of life,” he said.

He urged those living in South Africa to consider that further relaxation of restrictions on movements of people and gatherings is inextricably linked to getting the jab into arms.

“People being able to move around or mobility is key to many aspects of economic activity. But by the same token, we know that mobility increases [COVID-19] transmission risk. Even though we are encouraging non-pharmaceutical interventions…[COVID-19] is exacerbated by large numbers of people moving around,” he said.

Kingston said failing to vaccinate enough adults living in South Africa may lead to further economic harm if harder lockdowns are imposed.

He added that the “major ramifications” that hard lockdown had on industries such as tourism, the alcohol production chain and others can only begin to be mended once enough citizens take up vaccinations and those industries can be fully reopened.

“Lockdown – although it is necessary to safeguard individual and communities’ health – has a very major impact on the economy and the ability to provide a better life for all including providing sustainable and viable employment.

“We lost some two million people in terms of employment and we saw the economy contract by nearly 8%. We’ve recovered some of that…but unless and until such time we can have an economy that can operate at full throttle…[COVID-19 will] have an impact,” he said. –