Health workers in the Western Cape begin training to administer Covid-19 vaccine
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Cape Town - The race to train thousands of vaccinators to administer the Covid-19 vaccine, once it is ready, has started – with the Western Cape first out of the gate a day after the country received its first consignment of vaccines.
One million doses of the Covishield vaccine arrived at the OR Tambo International airport on Monday. The vaccine is produced by the Serum Institute of India and developed by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca with the University of Oxford.
The first batch of vaccines has been reserved for health-care workers across both private and public sectors (phase 1).
Phase 2 will include the vaccination of essential workers, people over 60 years, people with co-morbidities and those in nursing homes and hostels.
Phase 3 will include the rest of the adult population. The country hopes to vaccinate around 40 million people to reach herd immunity, including non-South Africans.
Provincial Health Department head Dr Keith Cloete said the province would receive its doses within the next 10 days. “We will be ready to execute a successful phase 1 vaccination programme,” he said.
The first of 1 995 vaccinators in the province received training on Tuesday, which will see them administer the Covid-19 vaccine to their colleagues.
Provincial Health Department spokesperson Mark van der Heever said: “The Covid-19 pandemic and the upcoming Covid-19 vaccine roll-out, have presented the health system with unique challenges, necessitating the upskilling of many healthcare workers in a short period.
“The Western Cape Department of Health has, in response, launched its biggest ever training intervention, which includes healthcare workers from the department, City of Cape Town, non-government organisations and private sector.”
The training programme includes a virtual online training package geared towards self-directed learning followed by weekly virtual update sessions, accredited by the National Department of Health.
Once training is completed, their accreditation will be confirmed, and they will be added to the central vaccinator register. The number of vaccinators needed to be trained is determined by the National Health Department.
One vaccinator is able to vaccinate between 40-50 people daily.
“It is estimated that 414 vaccinators are required for phase one. As the number of people needing to be vaccinated increases in phases two and three, our number of vaccinators will also increase,” said van der Heever.
“Healthcare workers have years of training, experience, and knowledge on administering vaccines. Therefore, the focus of this training will be on specific information related to the Covid-19 vaccine – including the handling, storage, research, product information, data management and reporting aspects of this vaccine.”
For phase one, around 378 sites across provincial health, municipal health and private health facilities have been identified as vaccine administration locations.
Sites for phase two and three are being finalised.
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) will conduct quality control process, prior to the distribution to various provinces by the Biovac Institute. Once in the Western Cape, the vaccines will be stored and distributed from the Department’s Central Medical Depot in Cape Town.
“The Central Medical Depot will store and distribute vaccines to our provincial healthcare facilities, City of Cape Town facilities as well as to the private sector facilities. This centralised distribution from the CMD enhances the efficiencies of stock management in the province enabling the shifting of vaccines and consumables with the use of data. Delivery schedule will be provided to the districts prior to the vaccines being sent to facilities.”
The province has not been informed as to how many doses it will receive. However, 105 000 healthcare workers across all sectors, have been identified as eligible for vaccination, according to Premier Alan Winde.
In addition to the 378 public sector sites at healthcare facilities, more private sector sites will be confirmed over the next few days, he said.
The South African Communist Party said the government should ‘forge wider cooperation with other countries’, and to avoid limiting the country’s Covid-19 vaccine programme to the United States and Western European developed candidate vaccines.
The Western Cape Provincial Parliament will be briefed by the provincial government on the current Covid-19 indicators and vaccine planning at a meeting of the Covid-19 Ad-Hoc Committee today (Wed).
MPL and Committee Chairperson, Mireille Wenger, said: “With the arrival this week of the first batch of vaccinations on South African shores, we await with great anticipation details concerning the allocation to the Western Cape.
“At our last meeting, we were assured of a best practice, three-phase approach for vaccination rollout by the Western Cape Department of Health. Now, it is a real matter of public interest that we are briefed on the numbers and types of vaccine for the province, as well as the logistics involved in rolling this out.”
Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier is to present the financial plans and other key rollout costs associated with the storage, distribution and access to the vaccine.