Cape Town - Conflated messaging have been identified as the probable cause for the confusion in the expansion of the parameters of the Sisonke vaccine trial, which saw non-health-care workers get vaccinated this week.
This is according to the Western Cape Head of Health, Dr Keith Cloete, who addressed the recent storm over non-healthcare workers who have been vaccinated this week.
At the start of the week, the Sisonke vaccine trial expanded the parameters for those who could get vaccinated, and he said that was probably how it ended up that people who were non-health-care workers were vaccinated.
He said the vaccines that were used were prepared as part of the trial.
“The undertaking with Sisonke is that the vaccines that need to be used, need to be used a certain date, and must be used for the criteria of the people that should be covered by the vaccines.
“That is why the Sisonke announcement was, ’we have doses left and we encourage all health-care workers to come forward’, because if the date comes and there are vaccines that have not been used, according to the way any researcher works, they have to reconcile and say ’we’ve used these vaccines the rest was not used’, and then the vaccines need to be returned because they are officially research vaccines.”
He said the confusion started because of the notice and that it paired with the broadening of the criteria, so that not only front-line health workers but people associated with and who work in the health system could also be vaccinated.
“That includes people who work in care homes, people who do research at universities because they also do research in the health-care system.
“Unfortunately, those two messages got conflated, and it came to the public as ’there are excess vaccines, please go and queue’,” Cloete said.
“(The Sisonke trial) is health-care workers with an expanded definition, so that we can maximise all the vaccines available to use under trial conditions, and what is not used by Saturday is returned as part of research protocol for the researchers to conclude.”
He said it had been unfortunate episodes that has arisen out of that, and “some have used this opportunistically as a chance to jump the queue”.
Dr Cloete explained it in greater detail in the video below:
Premier Alan Winde added: “I want to add that it is absolutely not acceptable to try to cheat the system, to try to push your way in front of a vulnerable citizen or a health-care worker. That is unacceptable, it is not cool at all and we definitely need everyone to stand together.
“As citizens of this province, we have responsibilities and we must do it properly.”
The Sisonke Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 study started in February and ends on Saturday.
On Monday, Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout will start with the use of Pfizer vaccine – this will be the official start of government’s vaccine rollout.
Dr Cloete has said that today the province would receive 33 900 Pfizer vaccine doses, with more expected to arrive on May 21 and every week thereafter.
Most people who have registered on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) system will received two SMS notifications within two weeks on where to get vaccinated, with a date and time-slot.
The first SMS will confirm the vaccine registration, and the second with vaccine appointment details.