WESTERN CAPE NEWS - The national Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize has indicated that the first of 1.5 million vaccines will arrive in the country by the end of the month, with more arriving by the end of February.
The province has started the work to put the systems in place to manage this massive operation.
The Western Cape Government’s vaccine strategy involves three phases:
1. Healthcare workers: We have estimated that there are approximately 100 000 healthcare workers in the public and private sector. This number will also include community healthcare workers, care workers and health science students.
2. Essential workers, those in congregate settings (such as care homes), those over 60 years old, and those over 18 with co-morbidities.
3. General population. This will include anyone over 18. The vaccine has not been tested for safety in pregnant women and in children and will not be administered to these groups.
We have appointed a vaccine advisory committee, made up of experts who will advise us on matters including science and ethics throughout the process.
Managing the logistics:
We have devised a process which will be followed for the rollout of the vaccines, in all three phases.
Firstly, facilities offering vaccination, as well as those individuals doing the vaccinating will be pre-registered and accredited.
The next step is the creation of a vaccination register which will be similar to a voters role and list those who require vaccinating. In this regard, we have started consultations with the IEC to share information about the systems they use.
Those on the register will receive an appointment time and date, where they sign a consent form, receive their first dose, and an appointment date for their second dose. They will also be issued with proof of vaccination.
On the appropriate date, the person will receive their second dose.
We will also be putting in place data systems to track the progress of the rollout and vaccine coverage at an individual and community level. The National Department of Health has proposed a computer application system for this process, however, should there be any delays with this system, the Western Cape Government will have its own system and mitigating processes in place to avoid any delays.
The process of vaccinating enough people to achieve “herd immunity” is a mammoth one and will require careful management, as well as the support of the public and private sectors as well as civil society.
To this end, we have started engagements with organized labour, and will also be engaging civil society, business, religious communities and other stakeholders.
Vaccines are a powerful weapon against Covid-19, but they cannot be the only tool available to us. We must at all times, continue to use infection prevention measures such as mask wearing, social distancing and hygiene in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones while vaccines are being rolled out.
As we have done throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, we will continue to share clear, honest information and data with members of the public on the availability, accessibility and acceptability of vaccines.
Healthcare worker infections:
As at 12 January, there were 1029 active Covid-19 infections among healthcare workers in the province.
This includes 98 doctors, 442 nurses, 23 radiographers, 7 pharmacists and 459 people in other categories (admin, cleaning, catering and other categories of healthcare workers).
This puts additional pressure onto the healthcare system as people have to isolate and quarantine, and also places additional stress on healthcare workers who are tired, anxious and who feel the psychological impact of the loss of colleagues, family members and friends.
This is why it is critical that our healthcare workers, who are on our frontline, receive the first doses of the vaccine.
The Western Cape Department of Health is also scaling up the system to provide on-site mental health and well-being support to healthcare workers.
The process of appointing additional healthcare workers is still underway. As of 11 January, a total of 286 additional staff had started in facilities across the province. Of these, 100 are based in the metro, and 186 are based in our rural regions.
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