Towards a People’s Vaccine Campaign – A Call to Action [Abridged Version]

 In C19PC Statements, Media Alert

Towards a People’s Vaccine Campaign


[*Please note that this is the abridged version, for the full statement and updated list of endorsements, please see here*]


The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc in South Africa and globally, millions are being infected and dying. Vaccinating a significant part of the population is the only realistic way to defeat the pandemic. Achieving this will require international co-operation and solidarity, while unity in action across all sectors of our society is now urgent. We need vigilance and solidarity to slow the rate of infection and to ensure that health facilities are not overwhelmed. The reported acquisition of 1,5 million doses of C-19 vaccines for frontline health care workers is welcomed, but this must be the start of urgently acquiring millions more. It is estimated that between 40 to 80 million doses will be needed, along with a massive roll-out effort to achieve herd immunity. This cannot be done by the government alone. We, the people, especially the millions of poor and working-class people, must be central to this effort.


A People’s Movement for the Vaccine

This call to action arises out of a broad-based demand for urgent mobilisation to ensure equitable vaccine access and allocation, which is endorsed by over 500 organisations and individuals, who now raise a call for the creation of a People’s Vaccine Campaign. It is inspired by the People’s Vaccine Alliance and Free the Vaccine campaigns globally.

Our government’s poor record of public service delivery, widespread corruption and mismanagement, as well as the profiteering by the pharmaceutical industry, private healthcare and other corporate interests are key contributors to the dire state of our health system, as well as risks to the equitable vaccine access required. While recent lack of transparency about the vaccine plans and delays in securing access to supplies have built little trust.

A people’s movement must participate actively in the discussions to shape and provide oversight to the national vaccination roll-out programme. The role of labour (especially front-line workers), civil society, social movements, communities and people’s organisations is crucial to defeat the pandemic.



Why Do We Need a United Response?

1) SA’s Unequal Health System(s)

SA is the most unequal country in the world. Our healthcare system(s) symbolize this with half of our healthcare expenditure serving only 16% of the population. The other half covering 84% of our people, mainly the poor and black working class. While the combined resources of both are critical to the success of a People’s Vaccine Campaign, without collaborative coordination free from predatory and profiteering practices, we will not see the end of this pandemic.


2) Gendered Disparities

Women generally carry the greater burden of health and care in society, and also suffer disproportionately from illness, poverty and violence. Continued delays in the vaccine roll-out risks deepening the gendered divide, and increasing both their exposure to the virus and burden of responsibility for caring for their family in the event of infection and death.


3) Austerity in a Pandemic is disastrous

The scale of the required roll-out requires massive funding for the public health system. Yet, the government remains committed to austerity, with National Treasury cutting R3.9 billion in real terms from Public Health budget in February 2020. While 2018 estimates put vacancies in the public health system at 37 000, those won’t be filled with such drastic cuts in the budget.


4) The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

The World Trade Organization (WTO) maintains patent monopolies, controlling information about how to make the vaccine. This prevents SA and others from being able to make and distribute affordable vaccines. TRIPS must be suspended for all vaccine-related information.


5) Vaccine Nationalism and Xenophobia

Many countries are addressing the pandemic on a narrow, nationalist basis. Wealthy nations in Europe, Canada and the USA have pre-ordered large numbers of vaccine doses which exceed the need of their own populations. Some countries are refusing to vaccinate migrants and asylum seekers or populations under their occupation. The vaccine must be for all of us.


6) Community Healthcare Workers (CHW)

Thousands of CHWs have been recruited, but their employment is insecure, irregular and low-paid. The majority of CHWs are women who are overburdened, with precarious employment. They must have immediate vaccine access and guaranteed job security.


7) Disinformation and Vaccine Skepticism

The rise of misinformation, science denialism, anti-vaxxer sentiments and vaccine hesitancy presents an incredibly worrying picture. While skepticism of government, the pharmaceutical industry and of the private health sector has created fertile ground for opportunism and fear-mongering.



Towards a People’s Vaccine Campaign

We are building a campaign to ensure equitable access to vaccines for everyone. Without widespread vaccination, we will not be able to end this pandemic. We must:


Pressure the Government to Build the Public Health System and Reverse Austerity

There must be increased health spending to build the capacity of the national health system, and National Health Insurance (NHI) to ensure decent and equal healthcare for all.

This includes full-time public sector employment for CHWs and the appointment of additional nurses. The terms and conditions of the 2018 PSCBC collective agreement should be restored. In addition, in face of the socio-economic impact of Covid-19 and inequality in our country, the implementation of a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) is now nothing less than a dire necessity.


Mobilise Civil Society to Demand Meaningful Representation

We must lobby for the inclusion of civil society and communities in various stakeholder forums where plans for the roll-out of vaccines are being formulated. We can campaign and educate communities about vaccines as well as monitor implementation to call out any form of inequity, unfairness, corruption, theft, mismanagement or even inefficiencies.


Combat the Wave of Anti-Vaccine Disinformation

We learnt with HIV/AIDS that disinformation amidst distrust, uncertainty and fear costs lives. This requires national information and educative engagement on all platforms. Lives now depend on building public health education in many languages and with many stakeholders.


Support Price Regulation, Control and Price Transparency of ALL Vaccines

We support measures that seek to ensure that the WTO, rich countries and the pharmaceutical industry do not continue to enforce Intellectual Property laws, patent and pricing barriers that undermine universal access to vaccines, and thereby also limit mass immunization.

We support the call for the vaccine to be declared a ‘public good’.


Let us join together to help grow a People’s Vaccine Campaign for South Africa.

To endorse, please add your details here

For inquiries, please contact:


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[*Please note that this is the abridged version, for the full statement and updated list of individual and organisational endorsements, please see here*]


Current list of organisations and individuals that endorsed the call, alphabetically: (Add details here to endorse)

(*Last Updated: 04/03/2021)


Organisations (Along with 389 Individuals)

1 #Churchoutofthebox
3 Abahlali baseMjondolo
4 ACT Ubumbano
5 Active Citizens Movement
6 Active Citizens Movement – Pietermaritzburg
7 Advice Desk for the Abused
8 Africa Revival Foundation
9 Africa Unite
10 African Alliance
11 African Centre for Biodiversity
12 African Water Commons Collective
13 Ahmed Kathrada Foundation
14 AIDS Foundation of South Africa
15 Alexandra Peace Ambassadors
16 Alison Lockhart
17 Alternative Information and Development Centre
18 Amadiba Crisis Committee
19 Amandla Collective
20 Anglican Church of Southern Africa
21 Asijiki Coalition
22 Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute (ASRI)
23 Belle and Company
24 Bench Marks Foundation (BMF)
25 Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, UCT Graduate School of Business
26 Black Sash
27 Bo-Kaap Ratepayers and Civic Organisation
28 Botshabelo Unemployed Movement
29 Botshbelo Unemployed Movement
30 Bryanston 2 CAN
31 BTF Public Health Advocacy Forum
32 C19 People’s Coalition
33 Cancer Alliance (Representing 29 Organisations)
34 Centre for Applied Legal Studies
35 Centre for Education Rights and Transformation
36 Centre for Social Change – University of Johannesburg
37 Children’s Radio Foundation
38 Children’s Resource Centre
39 Children’s Rights Ministry
40 Christian Development Trust Foundation (CDTF)
41 Citizen Surveys
42 Citizens Network Africa
43 Claremont Main Road Mosque
44 Coastal Resources Centre
45 Community Development Foundation Western Cape
46 Community Safety Campaign
47 Compassion Ministries International
49 Congress of South African Students (COSAS )
50 Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)
51 Connect Network
52 Corruption Watch
53 Critical Art and Design Revolutionary Education (CADRE)
54 Delphi Capital Partners International
55 Democracy Development Program
56 Democratic Municipal and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (DEMAWUSA)
57 Denis Hurley Centre
58 Disabled Migrants Rights Networking Organisation
59 Drs RK Thobejane and Partners Inc
60 DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security, UWC
61 eduACTION Community Education SA
62 Eluthandweni Maternity Health Services
63 Environmental Monitoring Group
64 Equal Education
65 Extend a Life Initiative – Uganda
66 Extinction Rebellion Nelson Mandela Bay
67 Extinction Rebellion South Africa
68 Ficksburg Community Advice Office
69 Fight Inequality Alliance South Africa
70 Foundation for Human Rights
71 Gauteng Housing Crisis Committee
72 Gauteng Together
73 Global South Against Xenophobia (GSAX)
74 Gugulethu Can
75 Health Justice Initiative
76 HealthEnabled
77 Housing Assembly
78 Human Rights Forum
79 Human Rights Institute of South Africa
80 iKhaya eLitsha Hub
81 Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa
82 Institute for Economic Justice
83 Institute for Economic Research on Innovation
84 Institute for Poverty, Land & Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), UWC
85 International Labour, Research & Information Group
86 Inyanda National Land Movement
87 Iranti
88 Johannesburg Against Injustice
89 Just Associates (JASS) South Africa
90 Kadesh International
91 Katlehong CAN
92 Keepleft/Socialism from Below
93 Kensington CAN (Johannesburg)
94 Khanyisa Education and Development Trust
95 Khulumani Support Group
96 Lameze Abrahams Psychologists
97 Lawyers For Human Rights
98 Legal Resources Centre
99 Liberateasoul
100 Lifa Lesive Community Development Agency
101 Maitland Garden Village Housing Forum
102 Malengine Corruption Watch
103 Mariann Coordinating Committee
104 Marikana Support Campaign
105 Market Users Committee (MUC)
107 Masifundise Development Trust
108 Media Monitoring Africa
109 Medicore
110 Molly Smit Events
111 Molo Songololo
112 Mopani Farmers Association
113 Mosu/Buhari Collective
114 Mowbray & Rosebank CAN
115 Muslim Youth Movement
117 National Labour & Economic Development Institute (NALEDI)
118 National Union of Care Workers of South Africa (NUCWOSA)
119 National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (NUPSAW)
121 New Unity Movement
122 Nkuzi Development Association NPC
123 Noordhoek & Fish Hoek CAN
124 Norwood, Orange grove And Houghton (NOAH) CAN
125 Open Secrets
126 Organizational Culture Consulting
127 OUTA (Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse)
128 Outreach Foundation
129 Palestine Solidarity Campaign
130 Pan African Chamber of Commerce
131 People’s Health Movement – South Africa
132 Progressive Health Forum
133 Psychological Society of South Africa – PsySSA
134 Public Affairs Research Institute
135 Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM)
136 Public Services International
137 ReCreate South Africa
138 Refugee Social Services
139 Rights for All Foundation
140 Rural Health Advocacy Project – Division of WITS Health Consortium
141 Rural Women’s Assembly – Free State
142 SA BDS Coalition
143 SACP
144 Sakha Isizwe Drop In Centre
145 SAMWU Back-to-Work Campaign
146 SARChI Chair in Gender Politics
147 School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape
148 SEATINI – South Africa
150 Seriti Institute
151 Siyakholwa Support Centre
152 Society Work & Politics Institute
153 Socio-economic Rights Institute of South Africa
154 Sonke Gender Justice
155 Sophiatown Community Psychological Services
156 South Africa Rural Women’s Assembly
157 South African Council of Churches Gauteng
158 South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU)
159 South African Development Community CNGO (SADC-CNGO)
160 Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance in SA (SAAPA SA)
161 Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI)
162 Southern African Green Revolutionary Council (SAGRC)
163 SPACE4Impact
164 St. Columba’s Presbyterian Church, Hatfield
165 StellCARE: Stellenbosch & Districts Family Services
166 Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute
167 Tafelsig Mitchells Plain CAN
168 Takuwani Riime(Stand up) Foundation
169 TB Proof
170 The Desmond Tutu Health Foundation
171 The Orginization Undoing Tax Abuse
172 The Soap Cycle
173 Transformation in Action Skills NPO
174 Transition Township – Kwazakhele Development Agency (KDA) Amandla
175 Treatment Action Campaign
176 Trust for Community Outreach Education
177 Tshintsha Amakhaya (TA)
178 Twyg
179 Vaccine Advocacy Resource Group
180 Vulamasango Singene
181 Wattville CAN
182 Western Cape Forum for Intellectual Disability
183 Women on Farms Project
184 Women’s League
185 WoMin African Alliance
186 Workers’ World Media Productions
187 Young Hearts for Palestine
188 Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union (YNITU)
189 Youth in Action – Middledrift
190 Zero Waste Association of South Africa

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