South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday urged all South Africans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as one of the main tools in tackling the pandemic, stressing more needed to be done to educate people and fight vaccine hesitancy.
Answering questions from Parliament, Ramaphosa decried those telling people not to receive the COVID-19 jabs, saying they are safe and evidence based.
Ramaphosa said that whilst it was not mandatory to get vaccinated, the jab was still the best tool to protect individuals and communities and prevent a spike in infections which could overwhelm the health system.
"If we can vaccinate a large enough proportion of our population, particularly the adult population, by December, we can avoid another devastating wave of infections and restrictions on the economy," Ramaphosa said.
"Those who refuse to be vaccinated are increasing the risks for all of us, not only for further resurgence of infections, but of prolonged economic hardship and lack of recovery."
The South African leader said the country was making every effort to hit the target of 300,000 people vaccinated and was currently hovering at a figure of 250,000 to 270,000, but more needed to be done.
He said a large scale campaign to encourage vaccination uptake was being set up and he would personally take part.
"Let us live up to being a nation that does things on the basis of science and on the basis of facts and knowledge," Ramaphosa said, urging people to believe in science.
"We could be a nation that relies on rumor and rumor that vaccines don't work, and I don't think South Africans, we want to be defined as a nation that just relies on rumors."
Africa has fully vaccinated under 3% of its 1.3 billion people.
Vaccine production within the continent is seen as key to meeting the stated target of vaccinating 60% of the people.
The continent has reported more than 7.8 million cases, including 197,150 confirmed deaths