This is how the Covid-19 vaccine will be distributed in the Western Cape once it arrives
Cape Town - The Western Cape has unveiled the systems put in place to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine once it arrives in the province.
Premier Alan Winde said on Thursday that when the first vaccine doses arrive in the province, it will be of “utmost importance” that they are rolled out in an efficient, effective and ethical manner.
“The Western Cape Government is working hard to ensure that everything is in place and all systems are ready to begin vaccinating as soon as possible.”
The news comes after the National Department of Health announced that the first 1 million doses are due to arrive in the country on 1 February.
National Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, who delivered the announcement said that the AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine doses will leave India, from the Serum Insitute of India, on Sunday.
Once the batches have arrived, the packages will undergo quarantine and quality assurance protocols for a period of between 10 to 14 days.
Mkhize said this was crucial and in line with protocols to ensure the products received were of quality standard and above board. The vaccine doses will then be distributed to all provinces for healthcare professionals to access.
“We are now ready to move ahead with the vaccine and inoculation phase,” Mkhize said.
The minister said phase one of inoculation would focus on healthcare workers, both in the private and public sector.
Winde also explained that the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAPHRA) needs to conduct an excelerated quality control process.
“The Biovac Institute will then distribute vaccines to the provinces. We anticipate their arrival within the next two weeks. Once here, the Western Cape Department of Health will be responsible for their distribution. This will be undertaken by our Central Medical Depot,” Winde said.
“The depot will distribute vaccines to our provincial healthcare facilities, City of Cape Town facilities as well as to the private sector facilities.
“Vaccination is key to recovery and contingencies must be in place to mitigate risk. Vaccines are an important tool for us in fighting this pandemic, saving lives and ensuring that we can start the process of recovery in the province.
Winde added: “We must ensure that people are able to safely return to work, and to school, that our healthcare systems can reintroduce those services which have fallen behind through the pandemic, and that our economy can start to recover.”
The premier said for this reason the Western Cape Cabinet adopted the Contingency Vaccines Acquisition strategy on Wednesday.
Under the strategy, the Department of Health, supported by the Provincial Treasury and the Department of the Premier, must coordinate contingency arrangements, and ensure that whatever vaccine is acquired, meets all the necessary requirements.
“The Western Cape fully supports the national vaccine acquisition efforts and in line with the constitutional principles of cooperative governance. However, we find ourselves in a situation globally where there is huge demand for vaccine supply, while suppliers are not yet producing vaccines at scale. A single acquisition vehicle carries inherent risk in this complex global system.
“This is especially the case in phases 2 and 3 of our vaccine rollout where large numbers of vaccines would be required, and the national government has not yet confirmed available supply for these phases,” Winde said.
“Centralised procurement requires a contingency plan that is complementary to the national strategy. This does not mean that the province does not support or does not want to be part of the national strategy.
“We will continue to work with the national Department of Health, and we will, of course, coordinate our efforts with theirs. But we will, at the same time, ensure that we can mitigate the risk and ensure additional pathways to source vaccines.
Doing this not only reduces the risk associated with only one supply, but would also support the national effort, as any additional vaccines sourced for the Western Cape would be in support of the national cause overall,“ he said.
He added that the logistical planning was underway to ensure a smooth rollout of vaccines, and that the allocation of the first centrally procured vaccine doses to provinces was being finalized nationally.
The Covishield vaccine will be used for both doses to each healthcare worker.
“In phase 1, we have targeted approximately 105 000 people working in the healthcare sector. This group includes public and private healthcare workers, community healthcare workers, care workers, health sciences students and traditional healers.
“In phase 2, we estimate vaccinating 2 million essential workers, people in congregate settings, and vulnerable groups including people older than 60, and anyone older than 18 with high-risk co-morbidities,” Winde added.
“In phase 3, a further 2.9 million people, over the age of 18 will be vaccinated.”
The premier said that the province, had worked hard to manage the pandemic and save lives, and continue to do so, but “without compromising the livelihoods of our residents who have already suffered tremendously under the lockdown”.