Cape Town - Premier Alan Winde has announced the Western Cape’s coronavirus vaccine roll-out plan but cautioned that challenges lay ahead.
On Wednesday, the National Department of Health confirmed that the first million doses were due to arrive in the country on Monday. The batches would be kept in quarantine and undergo quality-assurance protocols for between 10 and 14 days.
Thereafter, the premier said, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority needed to conduct quality control, after which the Biovac Institute would distribute the vaccines to provinces.
Winde identified the challenges that the province would face as well as the minute details that the Western Cape Health Department needed to finalise.
He said that some of the finer details of the plan included identifying each vaccination site, which must be accredited, and vaccinators who would be trained and accredited.
“It is important to us that people understand the science behind vaccines, and that we build trust.
“It is important to us that, throughout the entire vaccination programme, we are transparent, and that we share credible, science-based information with our health-care workers who will be the first to receive the vaccine, and with members of the public,” Winde said.
The Department of Health has conducted a rapid poll to determine staff readiness for the vaccine. Winde said that of the 1 680 responses received so far, 54% had indicated that they would take the vaccine, 19% would not, and 26% were undecided.
The premier said that the provincial government understood that there might be a fear of the unknown, which was exacerbated by the mixed messages on social media and in communities. He said the province was taking steps to build vaccination confidence.
That would be achieved by:
- Addressing medical concerns such as whether the vaccine was effective, whether it was effective against the variant and whether the vaccine was safe.
- Addressing religious and cultural concerns. This week, Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo met traditional healers to discuss their concerns and answer their questions. Winde said the province would continue to hold those kinds of frank discussions.
- Addressing misinformation. The premier said that throughout the pandemic, there had been a lot of misinformation about Covid-19 and the vaccine. “As we have done from day one of the pandemic, this government will continue to be open and honest with our residents,” Winde said.
Winde said the provincial government would develop a workplace readiness toolkit, which would include answers to frequently asked questions, a presentation, guides for managers and updated publications and information.
“We are also developing remote training materials for vaccinators and will conduct weekly training check-ins and regular Covid-19 information sessions with all of our health-care workers.
“The Covid-19 vaccine will be a key drive for this government over the next few months to protect our residents against Covid-19. It, however, remains imperative that, until we have widespread vaccine coverage, we all continue to implement the basic infection-prevention measures which we have used up until now, including mask wearing, hygiene and handwashing, as well as social distancing.”