A medical worker prepares a dose of Covid-19 vaccine at Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov) in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv. Picture: JACK GUEZ / AFP
A medical worker prepares a dose of Covid-19 vaccine at Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov) in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv. Picture: JACK GUEZ / AFP

SA reacts to receiving 1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine in January

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Jan 7, 2021

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South Africans have mixed emotions on Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize’s announcement that the country will get one million doses of Covid-19 vaccine by this month, and 500 000 doses in February.

Some welcomed the news on social media, while others voiced their fears and concerns about the vaccine.

However, the minister expressed his joy with the “breakthrough.“

“We are happy that the SII/ Astra Zeneca vaccine has already been approved by various regulators and is being rolled out in other countries. Therefore, as part of expediting the regulatory process, SAHPRA is applying reliance on that regulatory work,” said Mkhize.

His announcement was made during a briefing of the Portfolio Committee on Health on Thursday.

In the meantime, the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) has affirmed its readiness to support government efforts to ensure broader reach of the vaccine for its members and their dependants, in line with the priority groups identified in the strategy.

According to Dr Stan Moloabi, Principal Officer at GEMS, “the Scheme is ready and committed to paying for the approved vaccine to the benefit of a large number of frontline workers as our members are mostly frontline workers in the public sector, and the vaccine funding allocation will go a long way in protecting them”.

Once the approval by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) is obtained for the clinically appropriate vaccine that is being centrally procured by government, GEMS will fund the vaccine/s for all members who stand to receive the vaccine in line with rollout strategy announced by the minister, said the medical scheme.

Mkhize said on Wednesday that government teams from the National Department of Health and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) were fine tuning and aligning all the regulations processes to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays or regulatory impediments.

He added that there will be engagements will all relevant stakeholders in order to ensure the efficient and effective roll out of the vaccine for our health workers.

“We urge the public to be patient with us as we continue to engage manufacturers. Our commitment remains to save and protect the lives of our people. We will not neglect our responsibility to protect lives and also fight this pandemic. We therefore call on all South Africans, members of the public, political parties, business, labour, NGOs and community leaders and members to work with us as we start this historic process,” said Mkhize.

His briefing also include the status of healthcare services in provinces as they relate to covid-19 and the latest developments, including the roll-out strategy of the Covid-19 vaccine

As per the vaccine roll-out strategy briefing on Sunday, 1. 2 million healthcare workers in both the public and private sectors will be prioritized first.

See some Twitter reactions below:

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