Free State Health MEC Montseng Tsiu on Wednesday received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
The buoyant Tsiu, who is a professional nurse, took the vaccine alongside Dr David Motau, who is the Head of the Department of Health in the Free State.
“MEC Tsiu and HOD, Dr Motau, felt the need to take the vaccine first to give health care workers reasons to believe that there is nothing sinister about this vaccine because it has passed both the test of safety and efficacy,” the Free State Department of Health said in a statement.
The two leaders of Health in the Free State encouraged healthcare workers to voluntarily enlist to be vaccinated as part of the national drive to build herd immunity.
Building a herd immunity in the Free State means that 67% of the population which is 1.9 million of the 2.9 million in the Free State will be vaccinated to ensure that they are safe from getting the COVID-19 virus.
The vaccination campaign, which started on Wednesday with health care workers, will then be rolled out to all other sections of the population in line with the National rollout plan.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, on Wednesday were among the first together with health workers to be vaccinated in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape when the rollout campaign started.
“At first I was a bit terrified of this long needle that was going to be embedded into my arm. But it happened so quickly, so easily. It was just a prick on my flesh and I really did not feel much pain,” President Ramaphosa said after taking the vaccine.
Before being vaccinated, Mkhize witnessed the first healthcare workers receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The first health worker to be vaccinated was Zoliswa Gidi-Dyosi.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has been approved by the South African Health Products Authority, arrived at the OR Tambo International Airport in Gauteng, on Tuesday night.
The first batch of 80 000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being prepared for distribution across South Africa with immediate effect.
About 500 000 vials of vaccines will follow in the next four weeks.