Cape MEC explains why City healthcare workers are getting vaccinated before those outside the metro

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Feb 24, 2021

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Cape Town - The inoculation of healthcare workers (HCW) must take place near vaccine study sites and within reach of the researchers, according to Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo.

This is because 13 100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines forms part of the clinical research study, she said.

Mbombo, was replying to questions on why HCW on the outskirts of Cape Town, were not getting vaccinated. Currently, there are three main vaccination sites, Groote Schuur, Tygerberg and Khayelitsha District hospitals.

Mbombo visited Tygerberg Hospital on Tuesday, Tuesday, nearly a week since vaccination commenced.

As of 5pm Monday, 3 957 people were vaccinated across the three sites.

“The target is 500 per day at Tygerberg and Groote Schuur hospitals and 100 for Khayelitsha District Hospital. It's not only for the staff who are employed in these three institutions, it’s meant for all qualified including private (sector). We hope by the second week to have completed all of the doses to be able to get the others.”

Around 132 000 HCW are earmarked to be vaccinated in phase 1, with those at a higher risk, patient-facing, and working within ICU and Covid-19 wards currently prioritised.

“Currently we are focusing on the metro because of the access to vaccine sites. We do understand that we are leaving the rural behind, it's not that ideal but because it's part of the information study, this has to be adhered to.”

Health workers waiting for their turn to be vaccinated at the Tygerberg Hospital. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Doctor Coreen Ellis at the Tygerberg Hospital fills the syringe with the Johnson and Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

MEC Mbombo was at Tygerberg Hospital to see how the vaccination of Healthcare Workers is going. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

A doctor at the Tygerberg Hospital fills the syringe with the Johnson and Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Once the study is complete, it will receive general approval and administered like any other immunisation.

Registered nurses at Netcare Hospital and Covid-19 vaccinators, Annelize Giorgino and Claire Pitt, said they felt a sense of pride in administering the vaccine. The two were vaccinated on Saturday and started vaccinating the same day.

Pitt said: “The was a little bit of hesitation initially but once we did our research and realised that this is actually a milestone for not only the country but for the world, it was a bit of pride and trepidation. I was not sure what to expect but the main thing for me, it feels like it might be the beginning of the end, this cloud that's hanging over us is hopefully going to lift soon.”

Giorgino said: “It's exciting to be a part of history… It's the beginning of the end because we’re tired, we’ve been going since March non-stop, no leave, nothing, it's been hectic.”

Tygerberg Hospital is pushing for between 650-700 daily vaccinations with 60/70 per hour. Picture: Shakirah Thebus/Cape Argus

Tygerberg Hospital is pushing for between 650-700 daily vaccinations with 60/70 per hour. Picture: Shakirah Thebus/Cape Argus

Stellenbosch University’s Department of Medicine executive head Professor Mohammed Rafique Moosa said the roll-out at Tygerberg Hospital was going relatively smoothly with some initial teething issues identified and addressed. A challenge with some resistance from staff in high-risk areas to be vaccinated remains.

“We need to work on them, make sure they are properly informed. Some of the concerns are that it is not registered and people feel they being used as guinea pigs but we’ve made the process very clear to them why it's being done in this way, to give us access to the vaccine.”’

The hospital is pushing for between 650-700 daily vaccinations with 60/70 per hour.

Cape Argus

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