Retailer Shoprite Group is calling on the government to allow its employees to receive vaccinations urgently as the third wave of the Covid-19 increases in severity.
The group said it has more than 140 000 employees who serve more than 25 million people a month.
The supermarket group said it was South Africa’s largest private-sector employer, and believes the government must prioritise the allocation of vaccines to its front-line workers. It will source and administer the vaccines at its own cost and through its logistics and pharmaceutical infrastructure.
The group said when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the level 4 restrictions, he said the mining, manufacturing and taxi industries would be the focus of the fourth stream of the vaccination programme.
Shoprite Group chief executive Pieter Engelbrecht said: “Our front-line workers, including cashiers, merchandisers and line management retail workers, have been at work every day since the onset of the pandemic, working tirelessly to ensure we provide food, essential groceries and medicine to the nation.
“Our people interact with 25 million customers coming into our stores every month, and they must be vaccinated,” said Engelbrecht.
He said the group strongly believed that its employees should be prioritised, and the group was ready to roll out vaccinations on behalf of the government to its employees.
The group said it had a logistical and pharmaceutical distribution network to roll out vaccines to its employees through Transpharm Pharmaceutical Distributors and pharmacy chain MediRite.
“As the last few weeks have shown, South Africa will continue to be vulnerable to future waves of Covid-19 until we have vaccinated a sufficient percentage of our population,” Engelbrecht said.
“The group is eager to see the vaccine roll-out programme accelerated, and we can help if we can secure and administer vaccines while absorbing all the costs ourselves.
“We are prepared to play a role and foot the bill, and we can ensure it will happen rapidly,” said Engelbrecht.