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

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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: 11:00pm, 20/01/2021)


Individuals (Along with 301 others)

Bishop Jo Seoka

Dr Aslam Dasoo

Fatima Hassan

Hameda Deedat

His Grace Archbishop, Thabo Makgoba Anglican Church of Southern Africa

Jane Barrett

Lukhona Mnguni

Lebohang Phanyeko

Miriam Di Paolo

Mark Heywood

Mametlwe Sebei

Noncedo Madubedube

Prof. Francois Venter

Prof. Shabir Madhi

Rasigan Maharajh

Ronnie Kasrils

Ruth Ntlokotse, Second Deputy President of NUMSA

Shaeera Kalla

Sithembile Mbete

Stephen Faulkner

Tian Johnson


Abahlali baseMjondolo
Active Citizens Movement
Africa Revival Foundation
Africa Unite
African Alliance
African Centre for Biodiversity
Ahmed Kathrada Foundation
AIDS Foundation of South Africa
Alexandra Peace Ambassadors
Alternative Information Development Centre
Amadiba Crisis Committee
Amandla Collective
Asijiki Coalition
Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute (ASRI)
Belle and Company
Bench Marks Foundation (BMF)
Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, UCT Graduate School of Business
Black Sash
Botshabelo Unemployed Movement
Bryanston 2 CAN
C19 People’s Coalition Basic Needs Working Group
C19 People’s Coalition Cash Transfers Working Group
C19 People’s Coalition Gauteng
C19 People’s Coalition Health Working Group
C19 People’s Coalition Media Group
C19 People’s Coalition Workers’ Rights Working Group
Cancer Alliance (Representing 29 Organisations)
Centre for Applied Legal Studies
Centre for Education Rights and Transformation
Centre for Social Change – University of Johannesburg
Children’s Radio Foundation
Children’s Resource Centre
Children’s Rights Ministry
Christian Development Trust Foundation (CDTF)
Citizen Surveys
Citizens Network Africa
Claremont Main Road Mosque
Coastal Resources Centre
Community Development Foundation Western Cape
Community Safety Campaign
Congress of South African Students (COSAS )
Connect Network
Corruption Watch
Critical Art and Design Revolutionary Education (CADRE)
Delphi Capital Partners International
Democracy Development Program
Democratic Municipal and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (DEMAWUSA)
Denis Hurley Centre
DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security, UWC
eduACTION Community Education SA
Eluthandweni Maternity Health Services
Environmental Monitoring Group
Equal Education
Extinction Rebellion Nelson Mandela Bay
Extinction Rebellion South Africa
Ficksburg Community Advice Office
Fight Inequality Alliance South Africa
Foundation for Human Rights
Gauteng Housing Crisis Committee
Gauteng Together
Global South Against Xenophobia (GSAX)
Gugulethu Can
Health Justice Initiative
Human Rights Forum
Human Rights Institute of South Africa
iKhaya eLitsha Hub
Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa
Institute for Economic Justice
Institute for Economic Research on Innovation
Institute for Poverty, Land & Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), UWC
International Labour, Research & Information Group
Inyanda National Land Movement
Johannesburg Against Injustice
Just Associates (JASS) South Africa
Kadesh International
Katlehong CAN
Kensington CAN (Johannesburg)
Khanyisa Education and Development Trust
Lameze Abrahams Psychologists
Lawyers For Human Rights
Legal Resources Centre
Lifa Lesive Community Development Agency
Maitland Garden Village Housing Forum
Marikana Support Campaign
Market Users Committee (MUC)
Masifundise Development Trust
Media Monitoring Africa
Molly Smit Events
Molo Songololo
Mopani Farmers Association
Mosu/Buhari Collective
Mowbray & Rosebank CAN
National Labour & Economic Development Institute (NALEDI)
National Union of Care Workers of South Africa (NUCWOSA)
New Unity Movement
Nkuzi Development Association NPC
Noordhoek & Fish Hoek CAN
Norwood, Orange grove And Houghton (NOAH) CAN
Open Secrets
Organizational Culture Consulting
OUTA (Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse)
Outreach Foundation
Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Pan African Chamber of Commerce
People’s Health Movement – South Africa
Progressive Health Forum
Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM)
Public Services International
Refugee Social Services
Rural Health Advocacy Project – Division of WITS Health Consortium
Rural Women’s Assembly – Free State
SA BDS Coalition
Sakha Isizwe Drop In Centre
SAMWU Back-to-Work Campaign
SARChI Chair in Gender Politics
School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape
SEATINI – South Africa
Seriti Institute
Siyakholwa Support Centre
Society Work & Politics Institute
Socio-economic Rights Institute of South Africa
Sonke Gender Justice
Sophiatown Community Psychological Services
South Africa Rural Women’s Assembly
South African Council of Churches Gauteng
South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU)
South African Development Community CNGO (SADC-CNGO)
Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance in SA (SAAPA SA)
Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI)
Southern African Green Revolutionary Council (SAGRC)
St. Columba’s Presbyterian Church, Hatfield
StellCARE: Stellenbosch & Districts Family Services
Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute
Tafelsig Mitchells Plain CAN
Takuwani Riime(Stand up) Foundation
TB Proof
The Desmond Tutu Health Foundation
The Orginization Undoing Tax Abuse
Treatment Action Campaign
Trust for Community Outreach Education
Tshintsha Amakhaya (TA)
University of Kwa-Zulu Natal
University of Pretoria
Vaccine Advocacy Resource Group
Wattville CAN
Western Cape Forum for Intellectual Disability
WoMin African Alliance
Workers’ World Media Productions
Young Hearts for Palestine
Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union (YNITU)
Youth in Action – Middledrift


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