Cape Town - Hospital cleaners will be among the first health-care workers to get inoculated as the Covid-19 vaccine is rolled out, partly as a result of a campaign by unions.
From the moment there was talk of the Covid-19 vaccine being administered to front-line health workers, Nehawu campaigned for the men and women who do the humblest work in hospitals and clinics filled with Covid-19 patients
Nehawu’s Western Cape provincial secretary, Eric Kweleta, said: “We have been consistent in appealing to the department that the total sum of staff working within the health sector are all front-line staff. There is therefore no way that household and cleaning staff can be excluded in the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine.
“We have household aid and cleaning staff across all hospitals in the province and they form part of the front-line staff,” said Kweleta.
The managing Director of Cape Town-based industrial cleaning products manufacturer Industroclean, Emma Corder, said: “While one would not necessarily assume that housekeeping staff, whose duties centre around keeping the hospital clean and safely disposing of waste, face the same risks as those on the front-line doing direct patient care, a recent British survey found that cleaners are more likely to have been infected with Covid-19 than intensive care medics.
“The role of housekeeping staff is perhaps one of the most important as they need to make sure the hospital environment is clean, safe and ready to receive patients,” said Corder.
Mayco member for community services and health Zahid Badroodien said the City’s clinic and housekeeping staff at health-care facilities count as front-line health-care workers and will be included in the list of front-line staff who will be vaccinated.
Badroodien said: “The City’s health department has 208 persons employed as senior workers at our facilities.”
The chief clinical officer of Mediclinic, Dr Gerrit de Villiers, said: “All health-care workers, including housekeeping, will be vaccinated during the first phase of the roll-out, as stipulated by the national Health Department.
“This could take place in stages, for instance, vaccinating those who have direct patient contact first, and those not having direct contact following the first group. Our numbers would include approximately 2 500 housekeeping staff who have been included in our preparation for the vaccine roll-out.”
Meanwhile the Stellenbosch Unite group has co-ordinated the donation of 991 care packages to the town’s public and private medical sector workers, including nurses, cleaners, paramedics, porters, security guards, administrative offices, clinic workers and support staff.
The donation was part of the social support the organisation provides to vulnerable community members in the municipality during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Visit Stellenbosch’s CEO, Jeanneret Momberg, said: “Our town’s health infrastructure is under immense pressure and our personnel, both in the public and private sectors, are feeling overworked and physically and emotionally drained. As a token of our appreciation for their efforts under the most challenging circumstances, we wanted to give each person working tirelessly to keeping us safe a care package.”