WATCH: Healthcare workers begin phase 1 of Western Cape’s Covid-19 vaccine plan
Cape Town – The much-touted phase 1 of the Western Cape’s Covid-19 vaccine plan began with a bold affair and high-profile vaccinations.
President Cyril Ramaphosa jokingly admitted relief after hearing that five healthcare workers had already been vaccinated prior to him on Wednesday.
They were among the first in the country to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, just hours after its arrival in the country on Tuesday evening.
Ramaphosa and Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize were joined by Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo and provincial Health Department head Dr Keith Cloete for the highly awaited inaugural jab at the Khayelitsha District Hospital.
The first vaccinations in the country took place at the facility with Tygerberg Hospital and Groote Schuur soon following suit.
A total of 13 140 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.
Premier Alan Winde had previously mentioned that 105 000 healthcare workers in public, private and civil society settings had been identified and were eligible to be vaccinated.
As of Wednesday, the Western Cape has 272 817 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infections. There are 5 215 active cases, 10 962 deaths, 256 640 confirmed recoveries, and 1 296 533 Covid-19 tests have been conducted.
There are currently 1 427 people in hospital of which 317 in ICU or high care.
Cloete said that thirteen healthcare workers had been vaccinated, excluding the president and health minister, and by Thursday, in total 50 healthcare workers were expected to be inoculated.
Meanwhile, larger numbers of vaccinations were taking place at Tygerberg Hospital and Groote Schuur on Wednesday, he said.
Those vaccinated were among the Emergency Medical Service, GP, private sector healthcare workers, and a nurse.
Ramaphosa said: “I have just had my vaccination and I must say that 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.”
Mkhize said the occasion represented hope and possibility in defeating Covid-19. He thanked all involved who had sacrificed many sleepless nights.
The 80 000 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses approved by the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority were distributed to more than 32 sites across the country.
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.”
Gidi-Dyosi said her family was happy for her to take the vaccine and she had spoken to her husband.
She was joined by her colleagues Dr Sa’ad Lahri, an emergency physician, Mavuyo Mpambani, a housekeeping healthcare worker, and Cwengisa Dadirai, an admin clerk.
The vaccinated healthcare workers will now undergo a period of medical observation.