A giddy President Cyril Ramaphosa jokingly admitted relief after hearing that five healthcare workers (HCW) had already been vaccinated against Covid-19 prior to him. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
A giddy President Cyril Ramaphosa jokingly admitted relief after hearing that five healthcare workers (HCW) had already been vaccinated against Covid-19 prior to him. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

WATCH: Dr Zweli Mkhize thanks healthcare workers as Covid-19 vaccinations begin across SA

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Feb 18, 2021

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Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa, became one of the first people in the country to receive the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine against Covid-19 after it was administered to him and other healthcare workers at the Khayelitsha District Hospital.

Ramaphosa, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo and provincial Health Department Head Dr Keith Cloete among others were on hand for the highly-awaited inaugural jab at the Khayelitsha District Hospital, yesterday.

This comes just hours after the Johnson & Johnson vaccines arrived in the Western Cape.

The first vaccinations in the country took place at the facility with Tygerberg Hospital and Groote Schuur Hospital soon following suit, yesterday.

A total of 13 100 doses arrived in the province with 7 400 doses sent to Tygerberg Hospital and 5 740 to Groote Schuur for public and private sector healthcare workers (HCW).

Thirteen healthcare workers were vaccinated excluding the president and health minister, with 50 as of today, Thursday to be inoculated at the facility alone and with larger numbers of vaccinations taking place at Tygerberg Hospital and Groote Schuur yesterday, Wednesday, said Dr Cloete.

Here is a look at some of the vaccinations that have occurred, and others that have received their vaccines doses, in the country:

Ramaphosa said: “I have just had my vaccination and I must say that at first I was a bit terrified of this long needle that was going to be embedded into my arm but it happened so quickly, so easily, it was just a prick on my flesh and I really did not feel much pain. This day represents a real milestone for us as South Africans, that finally the vaccines are here and they’re being administered.”

Dr Mkhize said the occasion represented hope and possibility in defeating Covid-19. Dr Mkhize thanked all involved, who sacrificed many sleepless nights.

“There is a whole team effort behind the scenes. They have not slept a wink. They have worked so hard to make sure this works. We were put into a situation where we had to deal with plan B, which meant that we had to change from what we originally planned when we got surprising results...”

Dr Mkhize thanked healthcare workers (HCW) for risking their lives and remaining steadfast during this time.

“Our HCW have persevered and endured anxiety, panic, the fact of getting infection and infecting their families. I want to say to them that they are our front-line warriors, we need them protected, encouraged, we need to make sure that they are the ones that are safe so that our country can be safe.”

The 80 000 doses approved by the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority were distributed to over 32 sites across the country.

Half a million doses are expected from Pfizer next month with a commitment of seven million doses for the country’s second doses, in July.

“As we sit now, we actually have enough doses in the pipeline to cover all South Africans based on the 40 million that we had spoken about,” said Mhize.

Mkhize said the AstraZeneca vaccines were placed on offer to African Union member states, and 25 countries globally have expressed interest in obtaining it.

A maternity ward nurse at the Khayelitsha District Hospital Zoliswa Gidi-Dyosi was the first in the country to receive the vaccine.

“I am the first nurse who received the vaccination today, at the moment I don't feel anything. I am still Zoliswa, I am still okay. At first I was nervous, but I was happy. It's hurting, but (only) a bit.”

The South African Medical Research Council president Professor Glenda Gray led the J&J ensemble study with Professor Linda-Gail Bekker.

Gray said: “The ensemble study was the study that showed us that this vaccine could work in SA. In October, we started to enrol in the study and we enrolled in all places of the world, Latin America, SA and America and we enrolled at the time of the second wave, so when we got our results at the end of January, we could see that our vaccine worked with the new variant and we knew with certainty that this vaccine could work in SA.”

Cape Argus

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