Vaccine Queue Calculator for South Africa

By Oghenekaro Elem and Aleksandra Zając, MD
Last updated: Apr 05, 2021

This calculator was last updated on 2021/04/05. It is currently not updated on a regular basis.

South Africa has recorded over 1.5 million COVID-19 cases and over 51 000 COVID-19 related deaths. But the country has begun plans to curb the virus by vaccinating at least 67% of the population in 2021. So, how soon can you get the vaccine in South Africa? Omni has crunched the numbers and produced this calculator to help answer this burning question. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every country in the world, changing the lives of all of us. In South Africa, the number of casualties has already exceeded 51 110, not to mention the country's economic loss. We all think this virus has been our guest for way too long - but what can we do about it? The most effective way to battle this kind of enemy is to create a vaccine against it 💉. Multiple companies have been in a race since COVID-19 was discovered to do just that, and some of them eventually succeeded 💪.

Yes, we have an awaited defence against COVID-19!

Since there are almost 60 million people in South Africa, not everybody can get vaccinated immediately. It raises a whole load of new questions:

  • Who will be the first in the queue to get the vaccine?
  • And when are you likely to be offered it?

We created this calculator to deliver all the answers to both of these crucial questions. This Vaccine Queue Calculator will estimate how many people are ahead of you in the queue to get a COVID vaccine in South Africa. It also predicts how long you might have to wait to get your vaccine. Using our tool, you'll have a better idea of when you can expect to get vaccinated.

We've based our vaccine queue calculator on the Department of Health's Vaccine Rollout Strategy and the likely rate of vaccination.

Who gets the vaccine first? - the priority list

It's great that we now have COVID vaccines that have been approved for general use. However, that's not the end of the COVID story just yet. Millions of doses of vaccines now have to be produced and administered to the people. That is one massive manufacturing, logistical, and time-consuming task for everyone involved.

The first stage of the vaccination program focuses on saving lives and reducing hospital admissions. So it is an obvious first step to vaccinate the most vulnerable and at-risk groups:

1. People in roles considered essential for social functioning.

2. People most at risk of infection and severe outcome, e.g.:

  • those over 60 years,
  • those with comorbid conditions, and
  • people living in overcrowded settings.

3. People most at risk of transmitting COVID-19 to others.

The vaccine rollout will happen in three phases beginning with the most vulnerable:

Phase 1

  • Front line health care workers (HCW) (approx. 1 250 000 people)

Health care workers will be divided into categories by risk of exposure and contracting coronavirus, and the most at-risk category will receive the vaccines first:

  • Those conducting aerosol-generating procedures, i.e., intubation, ventilation, taking Covid-19 specimens;
  • Those in direct contact with known or suspected Covid-19 patients;
  • Those in contact with patients (who are not known or suspected to have Covid-19); and
  • Those not in contact with patients.

Phase 2

  • Essential workers. (approx. 2 500 000 people)

The South African government provided a list of essential services. Workers in these jobs categories are vital to the continued function of society:

  1. Medical, Health (including Mental Health), Laboratory, and Medical services and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases;

  2. Disaster Management, Fire Prevention, Fire Fighting, and Emergency services;

  3. The following services necessary to maintain the functioning of a financial system:

    • the banking environment (including the operations of mutual banks, cooperative banks, co-operative financial institutions, and the Postbank),
    • the payments environment,
    • the financial markets (including market infrastructures),
    • the insurance environment,
    • the savings and investment environment,
    • pension fund administration,
    • outsourced administration,
    • medical schemes administration; and
    • Services necessary for the provision of social grants;
  4. Production and sale of essential goods - Food, Cleaning, and Hygiene products, Medical and Hospital supplies, Fuel (including coal and gas), Basic goods (including airtime and electricity);

  5. Grocery stores and wholesale produce markets with written permission from a municipal authority to operate;

  6. Electricity (including vital demand management services), water gas and fuel production, supply and maintenance;

  7. Critical jobs for essential government services as determined by Head of National or Provincial Departments in accordance with the guidance of the Department of Public Service and Administration, including Social Grant Payments and pension payments;

  8. Birth and death certificates, and replacement identification documents;

  9. Essential municipal services;

  10. Care services and social relief of distress provided to older persons, mentally ill, persons with disabilities, the sick, and children;

  11. Funeral and cremation services, including mortuary services and the transportation of mortal remains;

  12. Wildlife Management, Anti-poaching, Animal Care, and Veterinary services;

  13. Newspaper, broadcasting, and telecommunication infrastructure and services, including call centres critical for the support of such services;

  14. Production and sale of any chemicals, hygiene products, pharmaceuticals for the medical or retail sector;

  15. Cleaning, sanitation, pest control, sewerage, waste, and refuse removal services;

  16. Services related to the essential functioning of courts, judicial officers, the Master of the High Court, Sheriffs and legal practitioners required for those services;

  17. Essential SARS services defined by the Commissioner of SARS;

  18. Police, peace officers, traffic officers, military medical personnel and soldiers, correctional services officials, and traffic management services;

  19. Postal services and courier services related to the transport of medical products;

  20. Private security services;

  21. Air-traffic Navigation, Civil Aviation Authority, air charters, Cargo Shipping and dockyard services;

  22. Gold, gold refinery, coal, and mining;

  23. Accommodation used for persons rendering essential services, quarantine, isolation, and the lockdown;

  24. Production, manufacturing, supply, logistics, transport, delivery, critical maintenance, and repair in relation to the rendering of essential services including components and equipment;

  25. Transport services for persons rendering essential services and goods, and transportation of patients;

  26. Services rendered by the Executive, members of Parliament, Members of the Provincial Legislature, Members of Local Councils, the Judiciary, traditional leaders and National Office Bearers. of Political Parties represented in Parliament;

  27. Commissioners of the South African Human Rights Commission, Gender Commission, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, the Public Protector and Deputy Public Protector, and the Independent Electoral Commission;

  28. Transport and logistics in respect of cargo and essential goods;

  29. Tow trucks and vehicle recovery services;

  30. Call centres necessary to provide health, safety, social support, government and financial services, debt restructuring for consumers of retailers. and access to short-term insurance policies as a result of reduced income or loss of income;

  31. Harvesting and storage activities essential to prevent the wastage of primary agricultural goods;

  32. Implementation of payroll systems to the extent that such arrangement has not been made for the lockdown, to ensure timeous payments to workers; and

  33. Critical maintenance services which cannot be delayed for more than 21 days and are essential to resume operations after the lockdown.

  34. Trades necessary for the rendering of emergency repair work, including plumbers, electricians, locksmiths, glaziers, roof repair work;

  35. Trades necessary for emergency automobile repairs for persons rendering essential services;

  36. Information and Communication Technology services rendered to entities and institutions engaged in delivering essential services.

  • Persons in congregate settings (approx. 1 100 000 people)

    • Persons in prison, detention centres, shelters, and care homes. Also, people working in the hospitality and tourism industry and educational institutions are at risk.
  • Persons >60 years (approx. 5 000 000 people)

  • Persons >18 years with co-morbidities (approx. 8 000 000 people)

    • Persons living with HIV, tuberculosis, diabetics, chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, renal disease, obesity, etc.

Back to the calculator

Phase 3

  • Other persons >18 years (approx. 22 500 000)
    • The rest of the adult population.

Who won't be vaccinated?

COVID-19 vaccination is currently not recommended for:

  • children under 16 years old 👶🏽👦🏽👧🏽,
  • pregnant women 🤰🏽,
  • breastfeeding women 🤱🏽,

But it shouldn't surprise or raise any doubts since new drugs are usually tested on healthy adults first. So once the Ministerial Advisory Committee ascertains the vaccines' safety and efficacy on these groups, the Department of Health will update guidance.

Vaccination rates

Vaccination rates start slowly, depending on the available vaccine doses, before ramping up as we get towards the end of 2021. So we modelled the vaccine queue calculator based on the target vaccination rates in the vaccination rollout plan provided by the Department of Health of South Africa, considering vaccine availability, and the information on the number of single dose vaccines ordered from Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), and the double dose vaccines expected to be delivered as the programame progresses:

Target vaccination rate = 316 000/day

Total target population to be vaccinated in 2021 = 40 350 000

Number of vaccinations needed to meet the target:

  • Using the Johnson & Johnson vaccines ordered = 9 000 000

  • Using a double-dose vaccine for the remaining target population = 62 700 000

Total number of vaccine jabs needed = 71 700 000

Number of weeks remaining since the start of vaccinations = 45

Therefore, in an ideal situation, it will require ~1.59 million vaccine jabs to meet the target of vaccinating 67% of the South African population.

However, we assume the vaccination programme will progress as follows:

PeriodVaccinations per week (millions)Vaccines administered (millions)People vaccinated (millions)
Phase 1Feb/Mar 20210.3231.621.62
Phase 2Q2 20210.6468.4010.02
Phase 2/3Q3 20212.21228.7624.40
Phase 3Q4 20212.21228.7638.78
Q1 20222.21226.54Rest of population

Back to the calculator

Disclaimer: These estimates assume that:

  • The first delivery of the 9 million single-dose JNJ vaccines is used up first before the double-dose vaccines become widely used.
  • As the programme picks up the pace and vaccines become readily available, the vaccination rate of 32 315 vaccinations observed in the first week of the Sisonke (‘Together’) protocol is multiplied 10 fold towards the end of Q1, and double that by the end of Q2. We expect the vaccination rate to speed up significantly along with uptake rate to eventually meet the official target vaccination rate of 316 000 per day by Q3;
  • There is no significant impact on the vaccination program due to the procurement of available stock from different manufacturers that are not interchangeable in a two-dose vaccine schedule;
  • Every South African receives the second dose of the double-dose vaccines on schedule, and:
  • All of the vaccines ordered go through clinical trials successfully and are delivered on schedule.

If you don't agree with these predicted vaccination rates, we have made it possible for you to enter your own values for the average vaccination rate over the entire vaccination rollout.

The Department of Health has developed an Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) that will allow "tracking and monitoring of vaccine uptake and coverage, prioritization, planning, safety monitoring and vaccine effectiveness studies." With the EVDS, we will be able to know how many vaccinations have been administered in South Africa in each province.

How to use the Vaccine Queue Calculator for South Africa?

Follow these steps to calculate your likely place in the COVID vaccine queue. The first section is all about you:

  1. Enter your age in years. Generally, the older you are, the sooner you'll be called up to have the vaccine.
  2. Check if you are a health care worker (e.g., nurse, doctor, clinical associates, etc.). This group is the target population in Phase 1 because they are likely to have a lot of exposure to the virus and need to be protected.
  3. Are you classed as an essential worker? Answer yes if you work in any of the essential services area considered part of the country's critical infrastructure.
  4. Say whether you live or work in a congregate setting, e.g., a care home. If everyone in a congregate setting is vaccinated, that will allow relatives to visit with decreased risk to the residents.
  5. Do you have any underlying health conditions or co-morbidity that places you at risk?
  6. Are you pregnant, or are you planning to be in the next three months? If the answer is yes, better to consult with your doctor because it is currently not recommended for you to have a COVID-19 vaccine until more trial data is released.

You will then see an estimate of where you are in the queue - the minimum and maximum number of people in front of you. We also indicate how long it might be before you get the vaccine, based on the vaccination rates given above and a default vaccine uptake rate of 79 percent. If you want to change these values, read on for further details.

Rollout of vaccines

In the Rollout of vaccines section of the calculator, you can enter a custom value for the vaccination rate. To do that, change "South African government's plan" to "Custom". You can either enter the time it will take to vaccinate every adult in South Africa or the number of vaccinations completed per week. As the vaccination program gets up and running, you can enter the actual vaccination rate.

Not everyone who is offered the vaccine will accept it. That means that the queue for you will be, in effect, shorter. A December 2020 study by Africa CDC revealed that 79% of Africans would take a COVID-19 vaccine if it were deemed safe and effective. We use this figure as a default uptake rate. For vaccination programmes such as the flu, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a vaccine coverage of at least 75% uptake. The figure had ranged around 70.0% to 74.0% for countries like Ireland, Canada and UK. There is also a 72% immunization coverage in sub-Saharan Africa. We are optimistic about the Africa CDC uptake estimate 💪🏽.

We know that waiting to get the vaccine might be frustrating. However, by prioritizing those who are most at risk of hospitalization and death, we should quickly save lives with this fantastic new weapon against the virus.

FAQ

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?

The South African Department of Health has approved COVID-19 vaccines to be safe. However, as with any approved drug on the market, you may experience side effects. Generally, though, the risk of side effects is much smaller than the possible consequences of a nasty COVID-19 infection.

These side effects include pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever. Some people might also have injection site swelling and redness, and nausea. Very rarely, people feel unwell and have enlarged lymph nodes.

How many shots of the COVID-19 vaccine will I need?

In February 2021, South Africa started vaccinating its citizens with the first single-dose vaccine introduced to the world. The vaccine is made by Johnson & Johnson, and its development is a huge milestone in the fight against COVID-19.

However, nearly all COVID-19 vaccines need two shots to be effective. The doses need to be around 3 to 12 weeks apart, depending on the vaccine. It happens that some people will be immunized with the single-dose vaccine, and some with the double-dose vaccine - it will depend on the product's availability.

Do I still need to wear a mask after I am vaccinated?

Yes, you need to wear a mask. At this stage, it is still unclear whether the current vaccine will also prevent the transmission of the virus to people around you. It is similar to the current situation where people have COVID-19 but suffer no symptoms. However, they are still able to transmit it to others. It may be only until a good majority of people have been vaccinated that restrictions to our daily lives are lifted.

For flu, experts say the herd immunity should be achieved when around 70% of the population gets vaccinated, so that is the current working theory for COVID-19. The Department of Health seeks to achieve 67.25% by the end of 2021.

Will there be enough vaccines for everyone?

Certainly not at the moment, but eventually, yes. According to the Health minister, Dr. Zweli Khize, South Africa has secured enough vaccines for everyone who needs it. A total of 9 million single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be delivered by the second quarter (Q2) of 2021, along with 20 million double-dose Pfizer vaccines. This means that about 9 million people will receive a single vaccine jab while 10 million people will get two jabs before attaining maximum immunity by Midyear 2021. You can refer to the vaccination rates table above for the estimates.

The South African government published its budget estimations for the population's vaccination, with an initial target of R20.6 billion for the 67% coverage planned by the end of the year. For 100% of the population, the budget is estimated at around R30 billion. Given the limited availability of vaccines, the government intends to procure available stock from different manufacturers. When further vaccines are approved and manufactured, more supply will come on stream to meet the world's demand.

Should I be worried about the South African coronavirus variant?

For now, you should be worried about it, just as about the coronavirus itself. The South African variant was discovered in December 2020, after the second wave of COVID-19 cases in the country. It is an object of interest of scientists, and research is ongoing. We know that, despite greater ability to spread, the variant is not more dangerous nor connects with more deaths. The currently used vaccines has been examined and proved to be effective against this new variant.

Oghenekaro Elem and Aleksandra Zając, MD
This calculator estimates where you are in the queue to receive a COVID vaccine in South Africa. 💉

It is based on the South African government's Department of Health's Vaccine Rollout Strategy and the likely rate of vaccination we outlined in the text.
About you
Age
yrs
Pregnant? 🤰🏿
No
Health worker? 👨🏽‍⚕️
No
Are you an essential worker?
No
Live or work in a congregate setting?
No
Do you have any co-morbid condition that places you at risk?
No
Rollout of vaccines
For vaccination rate use
South African government's plan
Uptake
%
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