Should politicians be among the first to get the Covid-19 vaccine? Phumzile Van Damme weighs in

The DA's Phumzile Van Damme believes the vulnerable should be vaccinated first.
The DA's Phumzile Van Damme believes the vulnerable should be vaccinated first.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

DA MP Phumzile Van Damme has responded to suggestions that politicians should be among the first to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

Van Damme started a discussion on social media when she shared a report claiming Indonesia had opted to vaccinate health-care workers, public officials (to boost confidence with the wider public) and then the general working population before the elderly. This is so they can return to work and save the country's economy.

Van Damme acknowledged the strategy but said it raised “a moral quandary”. 

“Interesting, Indonesia is vaccinating young people first so they can go out and get the economy going again. It still raises a moral quandary and for me, I think it through and still I get back to the most vulnerable first. Here's a thought exercise. Your views?”

One Twitter user suggested that politicians should be the first to receive the vaccine.

Van Damme opposed the idea.

“I disagree. I am a politician and very aware of my standing compared to others.”

She said she had economic privilege and that, along with following safety protocols, made her low-risk.

After President Cyril Ramaphosa's address earlier this month, Van Damme and ANC veteran Derek Hanekom both said they would wait until all vulnerable groups have been vaccinated before getting the jab.

The government wants to vaccinate 67% of South Africa's population by the end of the year to achieve population immunity.

South Africa's vaccine rollout strategy will be in three phases, with health-care workers expected to receive the vaccine during the first phase. 

The second phase would be the vaccination of essential workers.

The third phase would be the vaccination of the rest of the 22.5 million South Africans who will bring the country into the herd immunity threshold of 40 million people.


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